On November 30th, Mixi, Japanese counterpart of Facebook, one of the three biggest Japanese social network service, introduced a new feature [J, requires Mixi log-in], which allows you to search your friend on Mixi from his/her e-mail address, which makes Mixi step into real life networks side.
Before the change, you could invite your friend by giving his/her e-mail address, but you could not know if the invitee were using Mixi, could not see the invitee’s profile on Mixi. However, this change enabled you to search anyone whom you know the mail address on Mixi.
As most Japanese users use Mixi as a closed, friends-only network, this change shocked a lot of users. Many users who communicate only with friends from school, who do not want to be caught from office colleague, now feel unsafe. Others who makes network with hobbies, never showed their real name and/or face behind nicknames and illustration icons, now fear for being found by real life friends.
Refusal response on this new feature from users soared, and today, December 2nd, third day from the release, Mixi announced their temporary withdrawal of the function [J].
Many Japanese users do not want to be linked on Mixi with acquaintances from work, school, families and relatives. But Mixi has been expressing their interest in becoming like Facebook in Japan recently.
There was also another big change made yesterday, December 1st. The “Saikin no Ugoki(Activity info)” [J] does,
- notify when your friends add a new friend
- notify when your friends join a new community (“private” communities are not informed)
which seem to be imported from Facebook.
This function is also causing storm of denials. There are about 15 new communities established by users to protest this feature. One of them, “Activity Kinou Yamete”(Stop Activity Function) community gathered over 50,000 members within a single day. Ironically, the new community join notification feature spread this protest so rapidly among Mixi users.