Sunday, February 7, 2010

Punk'd, Facebook style

A few students at the University of Lethbridge, Canada decided to see how easy it was to create a bogus Facebook account and fool people with it. Valerie Fortney of the Calgary Herald reported her story, U of L Facebook prank a lesson in privacy. She quickly pointed out that Facebook is used for many good things before moving on to the point of the story.

But there is a dark side to Facebook, and that is what prompted the students to try their little experiment - apparently as part of a class, but it's never explicitly stated. It was an eye opener. In 24 hours the 'girl' was getting asked out, and having chats with people - some of them involving personal information. In 48 hours, fearful of what could happen if it went on too long, deleted the account. They then went to their class and revealed what they had done. I agree with Ms. Fortney, who says she would have paid money to be there.

Could a similar thing be automated? U of L professor Mary Dyck, an expert on cyberbullying, feels sure that it is already being done. Do you have any friends who are really computers?

At the end of the article, the author notices that an ad on her Facebook page was targeting "48 year old women" who wanted to test Ugg boots. It seems that 2 weeks earlier she'd been checking out Ugg boots on eBay. But she'd never mentioned that, or her age, on Facebook.

This will be my last Sunday post. Starting tomorrow I will post 5 days a week, Monday thru Friday.