Ping off to a rocky start as spam, issues plague service

Apple's foray into social music is not going well as its Ping service is experiencing a multitude of problems, including comment spam, a lack of promised functionality, and generally inconsistent user experience.

Security researcher Chet Wisniewski at Sophos said Apple is not employing any type of spam or URL filtering, as comments such as those advertising "free iPhones" were already appearing some 24 hours after the site's launch. He also said that Apple has made it easy for those to abuse the service.

"No credit card or other positive identification is required to participate," he pointed out in a blog post. Without this, a user could create accounts easily simply by creating a bogus iTunes account which in turn would allow a bogus Ping account to be created.

Ping is also suffering from a case of overpromising and underdelivering, apparently. In his presentation on Wednesday, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that the service would tie in with Facebook in order to assist in music discovery and finding friends to follow.

That is not to be. Facebook has blocked Ping from using its free APIs to connect to the service, fearing that a deluge of users could cause stability problems with the social networking site. Negotiations to make some type of arrangement don't seem to be going so well either: Jobs told All Things Digital's Kara Swisher that Facebook's terms were "onerous."

Users now must search for friends by name, or invite them through e-mail, making the process of getting up and running on the service much more difficult. It is not clear whether Facebook and Apple may come to terms, although reports indicate talks are "ongoing."

Another problem encountering early adopters of Ping is an inconsistent user experience. Apple has instituted a policy of approving profile pictures before they go live on the service: some have reported that the images fail to even upload.

Its recommended bands and users to follow seem stuck in time: the same 13 bands seem to be shown to all users regardless of their musical preferences, and the people recommended to follow seem also to be pretty much similar among early adopters.

Some are criticizing Ping for not living up to its potential. "Ping could be so much more than it is: isolated, controlling, and a bit boring," TechCrunch's Erick Shoenfeld wrote. "Ping debuts as this odd little social network sitting by itself in the corner refusing to, you know, network. And be social," CNBC's Jon Fortt said in his own review.

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