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Why Facebook needs an "unsubscribe" or "block event invitations"...

Wouldn't it be nice if there was a way you could easily ignore/block event invitations from a specific person? Today, Mari Smith directly involves me in a piece on her blog called " Facebook Event Invitations - Unsubscribe Option?" that goes right to this point.

THE BROKENNESS OF FACEBOOK

Here's the thing... I don't know Mari. That I can recall, I've never met her. I've never attended any of her online events, nor had I read her blog prior to this morning. Yet inside of Facebook I received the occasional message from her about upcoming events she was doing, none of which were honestly of interest t me. After her latest message about an upcoming event, I couldn't understand why I was receiving her message. Naturally I tried to see if she was one of my Facebook friends, but of course Facebook's <expletive deleted> brokenness didn't give me that answer:

facebook-friendsearch.jpg

I checked my Facebook Groups, too, to see if I had subscribed to any group that Mari coordinated. No luck there. So having no clue why I was receiving these messages, I sent her a Facebook message asking to please remove me from her distribution list, as it seemed to me that somehow I had wound up on some kind of list or group inside of Facebook.

Now, I'm glad I was polite, since my message to her wound up as a screen capture in her blog post today.... (goes back to my mantra "Never put online anything you wouldn't want to appear on the front page of the New York Times.")

She wrote back a polite reply, but as she notes in her post, there is no easy way to do what I requested inside of Facebook. There is no way to "Block Event Invitations from this person" or "Unsubscribe". You can, of course, "un-friend" the person, but what if you don't want to go that far? What if you only want to stop receiving their event invitations in your inbox? (And what if, as far as you can tell, they aren't one of your friends?)

Mari says:

With all due respect to Dan, I’m sure he doesn’t know if he had just RSVP’d NO or clicked the Remove from My Events link, he would not receive any further emails.

Actually, I did know this, but it only solves the issue for that particular event. If I RSVP NO or remove the event, I will not receive any more email notices about that event... but in my case, because I couldn't figure out why I was getting these email invites in the first place, I wanted to not receive any further email messages about any events. (Which sounds harsh, but keep in mind I didn't understand why I was getting these... see below...)

Mari's absolutely right that a "Block Event Invitations from this person" feature is necessary. If you have someone who you would like to keep as a contact in Facebook, but you are just tired of getting their event invites, you should be able to block their event invites, just as you can block application invites from a user.

She also suggests to organizers to create a "DO NOT INVITE" list, although I would suggest this should perhaps go the other way... create an "INVITE" list to which you add people - and then remove the ones who no longer want to receive your invitations. That might make it easier when you are creating an event invite.

MYSTERY SOLVED

Now I did figure out why I was receiving Mari's invites. It's simple, really...

She is one of my Facebook "friends"!

Yes, indeed, even though a search of my Friends in Facebook tells me "You have no friends named "mari smith".", there she was in the S's when I manually paged through all my Facebook friends.

So that's why I was receiving her event invites... because I had allowed her to do so... by at some point approving her friend request.

As I mentioned above, as far as I can recall, Mari and I have never met or interacted online. (Apologies, Mari, if we have and I simply don't remember.) I'm also very definitely NOT one to simply approve a friend request. I usually don't approve one unless: 1) I actually know the person; or 2) some combination of the following: a) when I look at their profile they look like someone interesting for me to follow; b) they write a very compelling personal message in their friend request; and c) they are also someone who is connected to a number of other people I know.

So at some point in the past something caused me to approve her friendship request. Perhaps it was last year when I was doing a lot more with Facebook and was actually following a great number of people through their status updates, the mini-feed and such. I don't know, but in any event, there was no mystery involved here (other than why Facebook doesn't make it easy to find people listed in your own Friends list!)....

FACEBOOK, CAN YOU FIX THIS, PLEASE?

A couple of lessons out of this for me:

1. DON'T RELY ON FACEBOOK'S SEARCH - If you want to find out if someone is a friend on Facebook, click on Friends on the top of the page, then the "Everyone" tab, and then manually page through your friends list (alphabetically sorted by last name).

2. FACEBOOK NEEDS A "BLOCK EVENT INVITATIONS" ACTION - I agree with Mari that this action would great to have for the times when you don't want to completely remove someone as a friend but you do want to stop receiving their event invitations. (Although I think that an email exchange like Mari and I had is also a great step because otherwise the organizer may still think you were invited and not understand why you haven't responded.)

What do you think? Does Facebook need this functionality?

P.S. And my apologies, Mari, for not realizing that we were connected on Facebook...

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