Goodreads’ automated “You are now friends with…” feature

Linking my social networking profiles has produced unexpected results—not only glitches, but a few genuine mysteries.

Take, for example, the disconcerting email messages from Goodreads with the subject line “You are now friends with,” followed by a Goodreads user’s online pseudonym.

The body of the message looks like this:


Good news! Your friend list on Goodreads is growing. M was added to your friend list because you are friends on Facebook.

See M’s profile

Recommend M a book

Compare bookshelves with M

– The Goodreads team

Want to disable automatic Facebook friending? Go to: [link]

Want to control which emails you receive from goodreads? Go to: [link]

This email was sent by request to [my email address].

I’ve used “M” as an example here, because I know “M” won’t mind the substitution. Quite a few people use online pseudonyms, but they’re particularly prevalent on Goodreads.

Here’s one of the many problems with online pseudonyms: if I had sent a friend request to, let’s say, “M” on Goodreads, then I might have been able to recall who “M” was. I could have anticipated the “You are now friends with M” notification in my email inbox. But I hadn’t initiated the Goodreads friendship with “M.” At least, I thought I hadn’t.

FacebookWhat made the email notification confusing was that “M” uses a different pseudonym or a real name on other sites, such as Facebook. I’d never seen “M’s” Goodreads pseudonym.

Who knows what actually transpired when I linked my Goodreads and Facebook accounts? It took about forty-two tries before the app worked properly. Now, a timer is displayed when I launch Goodreads, while it automatically signs me in using my Facebook ID. Fair enough. I asked for it.

However, I didn’t think I had authorized Goodreads to approve any Goodreads friend requests automatically.

Goodreads logoFortunately, a Goodreads staff member responded quickly (kudos!) when I inquired. As it turns out, auto-friending is a feature of the Goodreads Facebook app. To view the app, if you’re using it, follow the first of the two links above, or:

  1. Log in to Goodreads.
  2. Click on the drop-down arrow next to your avatar in the top menu bar.
  3. Select “Edit profile,” which will take you to your “My Account” page. (Go figure.)
  4. On the “My Account” page, click on the “apps” tab.
  5. In the section reserved for the Facebook app, look at the checkbox labeled “Automatically include in my reading network Facebook friends who are also Goodreads members” and decide whether to check or uncheck.
  6. If you changed a setting, click on the “save settings” button at the bottom of the Goodreads Facebook app section.

To be honest, I need all the friends I can get, especially if I actually know who they are.

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