'BranchOut' Will Help You Land a Job by Spamming Your Facebook Friends
Once you download 'BranchOut,' the tool will import all of your professional information, and gather relevant data on what your Facebook friends are doing and where they're working. It can also import all information stored on your LinkedIn profile, although it's pretty clear that the two services are in direct competition with one another.
With your network in place, the app will take you to your own homepage, where you can search for jobs and companies, and see if you have any Facebook friends who work at your desired places of employment. It's a feature that could certainly be of some use, but the app's functionality seems to primarily depend upon a user's willingness to "branch out" and make connections with their friends. And that's where the spam element seeps in.
Granted, the app won't automatically blast your friends' Walls in the way that some social games do, but there is a distinctly spammy smell to the way it operates. Connections are made by manually inviting friends to download the app, and 'ribbons' are awarded according to the number of people in your network. The more connections you make, the fancier the ribbon you receive. Users can also "recommend" friends, or request recommendations from them. Every action, however, generates some sort of post or notification, and, as a result, plenty of Facebook users have been flooded with Wall posts from semi-anonymous contacts requesting their participation.
There's a clear incentive, then, for users to invite as many friends as possible, which would explain the app's asymptotic growth. In the past week, its membership has skyrocketed from 10,000 to over 40,000 active users, all of whom are presumably hoping to use each other to find jobs.
It's obvious that 'BranchOut' is attempting to bridge the gap between Facebook and its relatively more professional counterpart LinkedIn. Its success, however, will likely hinge upon our collective willingness to use Facebook as a career-building platform, rather than a career-destroying one. The app's ribbon system and game-like design may render it marginally less intimidating than LinkedIn, but its layout and spammy invitation system could easily cheapen it, as well. After all, would you really hire someone who treats a job hunt like a game of 'Mafia Wars'?