Wikia Search violates Facebook’s TOS

Today is not going well for Wikia Search. After launching to less-than-stellar reviews, it has been discovered that they are violating Facebook’s TOS with their “Invite from Social Networks” feature.

Here’s how the feature works: you select “Facebook” from the list of networks and enter your username and password.


Wikia Search then goes off and scrapes your Facebook profile page for a list of your friends and presents you with a display of these friends (hotlinking their profile images from Facebook’s servers, no less), allowing you to check which ones you’d like to invite to Wikia Search:


After you finish with that, it uses your login information again to send a Facebook message to the friends that you checked, appearing to be one written personally by you:

“Christopher sent you a message.

Subject: Search Wikia

I found this great new site called Search Wikia. Go here http://alpha.search.wikia.com/account/addaccount.html to create your account. I am already a member there. Check it out. Christopher Finke”

The problem with all of this is that it blatantly violates these portions of Facebook’s TOS:

“You agree not to use the Service or the Site to: […]

  • harvest or collect […] contact information of other users from the Service or the Site by electronic or other means for the purposes of sending unsolicited emails or other unsolicited communications
  • use automated scripts to collect information from or otherwise interact with the Service or the Site”

You’d think that with the whole Plaxo/Robert Scoble fiasco last week, Wikia Search would have considered removing this feature before launch to avoid the inevitable backlash when their users start getting banned from Facebook after using this feature.


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