Social Roulette is forced by Facebook to commit its own social suicide

Filed Under: Facebook, Featured

Facebook with blood. Image from ShutterstockOh look, Sally Chipper wants you to like her new Page, Joe Smith is doing something with make-believe farm animals, and Misty Dogood wants you to sign three petitions.

Wouldn't it be awful and yet kind of a relief were faux farmer Smith and all of his ilk to trip and fall on e-rakes?

Facebook thinks not.

It has, therefore, banned Social Roulette, an app launched on Saturday.

Social Roulette calls itself "a game of chance in which your identity is the grand prize."

If you play, you get a 1 in 6 chance that your Facebook account will be deleted. Five out of six times, the app just posts "I played Social Roulette and survived" to your timeline.

Social roulette Facebook post

It's an online version of Russian Roulette: the game of chance in which a player places a single round in a revolver, spins the cylinder, places the muzzle against his temple, and pulls the trigger.

In this case, the chance was transferred to your Facebook temple. If you got a bullet through the Facebook skull, all your posts, friends, apps, likes, photos and games were removed before "completely deactivating" your account.

Social Roulette admits that "it's very difficult to 'permanently delete' a Facebook account" and provides a link to Facebook's instructions on ending your Facebook life as we know it.

In fact, the game gave the option of circumventing the kill switch.

That way, users could turn off their accounts but activate them later, without losing content and connections.

Co-founder Kyle McDonald told Tech Crunch that he recently whipped up the game (in four hours) as a quick fix for social networking exhaustion:

"Everyone thinks about deleting their account at some point, it's a completely normal reaction to the overwhelming nature of digital culture. Is it time to consider a new development in your life? Are you looking for the opportunity to start fresh? Or are you just seeking cheap thrills at the expense of your social network? Maybe it's time for you to play Social Roulette."

As quickly as the game was created, so too was it axed.

McDonald says it took his team four hours to create Social Roulette, and within four hours of the launch Facebook responded by blocking the API key and restricting the makers' ability to create Facebook applications.

Facebook flagged the game with an automated system for the crime of "creating a negative user experience," McDonald said.

Facebook didn't much like the logo, either, which features the Facebook logo's "F" loaded into one of the six chambers of a pistol.

social roulette

Facebook, in an official statement sent to Tech Crunch's Josh Constine, didn't specify which policy Social Roulette had breached, particularly since the game did give users that option of not deleting their accounts.

But heaven knows Facebook looks out for its warm, fuzzy glow, aka what it calls a "trustworthy" user experience:

"We take action against apps that violate our platform policies as laid out here: https://developers.facebook.com/policy/, in order to maintain a trustworthy experience for users."

With its API access yanked, users can't log in to Social Roulette with their Facebook account, nor can the game delete content from profiles.

McDonald, perhaps a bit optimistically, believes that Facebook will OK the game and that Social Roulette will live to kill again sometime this week.

Can account deletion be a good idea?

I can certainly understand the impulse, particularly if it's motivated by Facebook activity that leads to, say, losing your job or that involves cyber bullying, or as a result of being victimized by revenge porn.

There are lots of reasons to delete your Facebook account: here's a list of 10 from Business Insider.

Killing your Facebook account, however, is just one step. It doesn't redeem your online reputation, nor does it allow you to rid yourself of trolls or disappear from the internet.

Still, users should have the option of pulling the trigger.

Pulling the trigger should be well thought-out. But Social Roulette wasn't turning the decision into a casual one. It did, after all, offer users an opt-out.

I say, Facebook, let the game live.


Image of blood drip courtesy of Shutterstock.

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About the author

I've been writing about technology, careers, science and health since 1995. I rose to the lofty heights of Executive Editor for eWEEK, popped out with the 2008 crash, joined the freelancer economy, and am still writing for my beloved peeps at places like Sophos's Naked Security, CIO Mag, ComputerWorld, PC Mag, IT Expert Voice, Software Quality Connection, Time, and the US and British editions of HP's Input/Output. I respond to cash and spicy sites, so don't be shy.