5 Sep 2006
Since last year, I’ve been using a Facebook account I created for my dorm to reach out to my students and advertise programs, etc. While I’ve tried to turn a blind eye to some of the things I’ve seen online (though I did report the inappropriate anti-Matt group created last year), I continue to worry about the excessive amounts of information students share about themselves (opening themselves to identity theft, ruined reputations when they look for a job, and stalking).
Facebook introduced a new feature today called Feeds, which may have the unintentional effect of finally waking students to protect themselves online. When you log in, you see a chronological view of your “friends” new photos, comments, and profile changes. You can see that Friend A now lists “Lost” as a favorite TV show, or that Friend B is newly single.
On one hand, I think it’s a pretty neat application of internal RSS feeds. But the student feedback I’ve read so far has been overwhelmly negative (the site is now labeled “Stalkerbook”). They don’t seem to realize that someone keeping close tabs on your profile could have seen all these changes in information anyway.
Fred Stutzman, a Ph.D. student at UNC-Chapel Hill who has emerged as one of the leading researchers on the Facebook phenomenon, has some thoughts on what’s actually at work…