Social Networks and the Death of Email

CNET reports that Email is, like, sooo dead.

When I was in Germany for grad school I was surprised when a classmate said he stayed in touch with faraway friends primarily via IM. “That’s odd”, I replied, “most of my friends aren’t on IM. They just email.”

His reply was short and to the point:

That’s because you’re old, Stan.


But it’s true. Young people do most communication via texting, IM, and social networks.

Eric Rice suggests that this is because of “social authentication. I have to approve you as a contact before you can communicate with me. If I approve someone who is a spammer, I can drop with a single click.

I agree, but this also makes me sad. I don’t mind being contacted by non-friends (or long lost friends) who have a real reason for contact. And I don’t want to have to personally approve each potential contact. That sounds like a lot of work!

The solution is to delegate this “social authentication” out to people I trust. If someone is a friend of my friend, they should be able to contact me with no problem. Likewise, if a friend of mine has identified someone as a spammer, they should be automatically blocked for me. Visually it would look like this:

(That graph comes from my old Outfoxed days, in Keeping your network clean.)

The funny thing is that none of the big social networks employ this technique. LinkedIn comes the closest with their “ask a contact for an introduction to one of their contacts”.

Similar social networked trust solutions could be used for comment spam, product reviews, and even code execution.

That’s my prediction. We’ll see how this plays out.