Word to the wise, folks: If you’re planning on inviting a small circle of your pals to a party at your place, make sure to uncheck the little box next to the "anyone can view and RSVP" setting before clicking the "Create Event" button.
Rebecca Javeleau, 14, of Herdfordshire, England, learned that lesson the hard way after the birthday party invitation she posted on Facebook got a few more replies than she’d been expecting.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Javeleau got a jaw-dropping 21,000 RSVPs from Facebook users around the globe — including from such (fake) celebs as Justin Bieber and Stephen Hawking — all because the (now-freaked-out) teenager had forgotten to mark the Facebook event for her 15th birthday as a private affair.
Facebook promptly took down the public page for Javeleau’s event, but that hasn’t stopped Facebook users from creating their own fan pages for the party, like this one. "HER PARTY WILL GO DOWN IN HISTORY," promises the info section on the page, which has raked in more than 1,200 "likes" and wall posts from random users asking for directions.
Rather than calling the bakery to order another cake and more napkins, Javeleau’s worried mother promptly nixed the party (sorry, Rebecca), revoked the girl’s Internet privileges (harsh), and even called the police, who are said to be stepping up their patrols in case a swarm of Facebook pranksters decide to show up on the embarrassed teen’s doorstep, according to the Telegraph story.
Rebecca, whose cautionary tale also made CBS's "Daily Show" (check out the video here), isn’t the first hapless Facebook user to get more than she bargained for after posting a party invite on the site.
The Telegraph reported in February that more than 50 destructive gatecrashers descended on a home near Liverpool after a 15-year-old girl posted a Facebook invite for a small shindig.
The paper (which must have a writer dedicated to the "Facebook party crashers" beat) also told of a chaotic 2008 party crashed by about 100 "revelers" — although, to be fair, the cops in that case said it wasn’t clear whether the rampage was "Facebook-related." (And let’s face it: The phenomenon of teen parties gone disastrously awry pre-dates the Facebook era by a few decades.)
Earlier this year, a Facebook invite for a small birthday party in Australia drew an astounding 60,000 RSVPs, not to mention a slew of fan pages, a Twitter feed and even a T-shirt — that is, before the whole thing was revealed to be an elaborate hoax. Oh well.
Of course, sometimes a flood of unintended attention on Facebook can be a good thing, as one writer found out after a fan page for his book amassed 692,000 fans in only a few months. Unfortunately for the author, it turned out that Facebook users were more turned on by the catchy title of the book — "Shut Up, I’m Talking" — than for the book itself, which despite all its unexpected fans has yet to become a bestseller.
Anyway, the moral of the story? Check the privacy settings on your next Facebook event invite before you post it — and remember, if your list of Facebook friends includes hundreds of random folks you’ve hardly even met, don’t be surprised if you see a few extra faces at the next meeting of your Facebook-advertised book club.
(And finally, a note to Facebook: Shouldn’t event invites be set to "private" by default?)