Spotify loves to use your Facebook wall as an advertisement board

Problem

Spotify is an online music streaming software. I like Spotify but there’s nothing worse than a software that cheats you. I’m writing this after seeing people discuss about how Spotify misuses their trust and advertises on their wall. Even though music may not be directly related to social media, Spotify figured out a way: share your latest music discoveries with your friends in order to make your friends curious about what you are listening. There is only one problem: how to get the users trust a music application with their social network? The answer is: advertisement! Spotify shows a big Facebook button on the main user interface all the time with a message that makes the user curious.

When you click that button, a standard Facebook authentication window opens and asks if you want to give access to Spotify Facebook application and that’s how the story begins. Spotify starts reporting the songs you listen on your wall so that your friends can see:

When others click on a song, they will be asked to install Spotify. Smart way to advertise! Sounds like a win-win situation: you show off your taste of music and Spotify finds a chance to attract your friends. Well, not exactly. If you care about your privacy, it can be a big problem. Imagine you are heartbroken and listen to Bonnie Tyler’s It’s a heartache and some similar songs. It’s almost as telling everyone in your friend list what mood you have. Now it might not be bad to share your mood with your friends, but many have people in their friends who they are not comfortable with them to share emotions. Music and emotional mode are connected. Spotify shares not only your songs, but also your mood.

Moreover it allows others to see what music you are listening in real time:

You don’t want to be judged by others because of certain types of music you listen, do you? Specially if you are a fan of not-so-popular song or artist, there is a big chance that others may prejudge you. You may not care what people say which is a good thing, but still Spotify shares too much information which makes such unnecessary prejudices more likely.

So, maybe after trying Spotify Social you decide it’s not your cup of tea and want to uninstall it. This is what happens if you remove the Facebook app:

Spotify constantly shows that annoying red error message bar at the top of the main user interface like it doesn’t understand how to deal with this very unlikely error! Also those “Loading…” messages constantly keep animating on your screen till you try to fix it, even if it means installing Spotify again!

A good error message is descriptive, and shows a solution. “Failed to enable Spotify social” doesn’t have these characteristics. It doesn’t even use the word “Facebook” so it takes a while to figure out what is wrong. It doesn’t offer any solution either. Should the user go to Facebook and do something? Should the user click on the message bar and do something? (nothing happens)

In order to solve that problem you have to go to options, click on “Connect to Facebook…” and then disconnect it from here again. Then go to Facebook and remove the Spotify application again. Quite weird, right? Well, I personally don’t believe it’s very hard to fix for a company like Spotify. Here in Stockholm, Spotify promotes itself as Google of Sweden! So they sure have enough programmers and designers to fix such obvious flaws, if they want to.

Solution

First of all, don’t publish messages on behalf of the users that they are not OK with it. When installing the Spotify app, it simply informs the user that it will be posting messages on user’s wall. But it never gives the option to the user to turn that off. It shouldn’t be hard to add these options under the settings of the application.

Moreover it should be possible to turn off sharing the music you are listening in real time. If users feel their privacy is respected, they trust the application. Otherwise they will uninstall it as soon as they can. This is probably not what Spotify wants.

Don’t force users to do something they don’t want to. Many users learn by trying. If someone clicks “Connect to Facebook”, let them disconnect from Facebook that easy too. Now it may be argued that the user should have discovered that since he has connected to Spotify via the desktop application, he or she should have figured out that it should be disconnected from the same place. Right! But still many of us get rid of annoying Facebook applications on Facebook! Spotify may show those annoying messages for technical reasons. Maybe it cannot detect between an uninstalled application and a broken connection to Facebook! But whatever the reason, it should handle it gracefully and ask the user if they want to disconnect from Facebook. If the user uninstalls the Spotify Facebook application it should ask if they want to disconnect from Facebook? Or they want to try connecting again.

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