One large, hold the spam: Free pizza if you friend Papa John on Facebook

Abbondanza! Papa John's is so eager to get new friends on Facebook that it's sending a code for a free medium pizza to anyone who becomes a fan of its group page.

Between 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. Monday, Papa John's group went from around 10,000 users to nearly 124,000. That's gonna cost it a lot of dough. The deal, which will be sent out via the group's updates starting Wednesday and requires the purchase of another pizza, ends December 1.

The Pizza Wars are really heating up. Most of the big pie spinners now allow you to order on their sites, through widgets, or via text messaging. I find it more pleasurable to order Domino's by its website than to actually eat the stuff. Watching that little status bar teasingly track your pie's progress in the minutes before your doorbell rings is a lot saucier than the food.

But now the biggies are spreading their pepperoni though major social networking sites and more unconventional means. Last month, Pizza Hut began allowing customers to order using Facebook and immediately transgressed by notifying all the friends in their groups that they had done it. Apparently that was a spam too far, because the company apologized and relented. The Hut moved on to bribing online customers with free music downloads. Domino's just enabled ordering by TiVo.

All of us on Facebook and MySpace have been tracked by from people we'd rather not hear from again. But people get socially greedy. Long-lost contacts notice that their Friend count could use a goose, and suddenly everything's bygones. Papa John's takes it a step farther, though. It's so eager to boost its friends list that it's going out of pocket to elevate the number. Like Paris Hilton, it's paying for friends. I never thought of that. I wish I'd held out on those jerky former high school jocks for a little gratuity before accepting.

What's going to stop everyone from de-friending Papa John's after we've gotten what we want from it? Man, it's like high school all over again, but with mushrooms and extra cheese this time.
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