My first Google+ Events invite appeared in my inbox Sunday — but it wasn’t exactly for my favorite kind of party. It was in Egypt, with 100 people I didn’t know, hosted by someone I had never met. Yet Mohamed Khalaf, someone outside my oh-so-sacred circles, thought I should attend the “love is me” gathering.
I don’t use Google+, nor do any of my friends, so maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised to get the spam invite. Google only introduced their fancy new evites — complete with customized MOVING themes and “party mode” real-time streaming photos — two weeks ago, so I guess some kinks are to be expected. They were quick to fix the issue that automatically added events to users’ calendars when the obscure celebrities that actively use Google+ voiced their frustration.
Bad news for Wil Wheaton, though, because even though event invitations from people outside your circles will no longer be added to your calendar, anyone in the Google+ world can still invite you to their party — and Google doesn’t plan on changing this.
“Since Google+ is still growing very quickly, it’s possible that people you know aren’t in your circles yet. In addition, there are some cases where there are people who you don’t know or aren’t in your circles and it’s appropriate for them to send you an invite to an event,” a Google spokesperson told us.
Okay, maybe there are SOME cases where it’s appropriate, but what about ALL the other instances?
To test this out, we created an event and tried to invite a bunch of celebrities via their Google+ accounts. Michael Jordan, Ghandi and Larry Page were among the attempted invitees, but for some reason their invitations wouldn’t send — the only celeb we managed to successfully spam was Kim Kardashian. It said that the others’ invitations had sent, but Kim was the only one who actually showed up on the guest list.
This is because Google+ protects some of its “power” users, but they didn’t want to reveal how they determine who gets the spam filter and who doesn’t — other than having a lot of people in your circles helps. Even though Kim Kardashian is pretty active on her Google+, she only has ten people in her circles, which apparently isn’t good enough for spam protection.
“We have rolled out fixes for certain people that have a lot of people in their circles,” they said. “There are a number of other factors, but we don’t want to share all of them. It defeats the purpose of spam detection if people know.” (I tried inviting said spokesperson to the party, no luck.)
For the rest of us, the only way to stop the spam is to disable event email notifications altogether, which sort of defeats the purpose if someone you actually know is trying to send you an invitation. But then again they’d probably invite you to their party normally, with a text or phone call or something, and not through Google+.
In any event, see you at the party tonight Kim.