My own private Facebook
When I arrived in the US in august, I got used to hear two questions. The first one was always more or less "So what do you think of America so far?", and the second one was "Are you on the Facebook?". I quickly started to visit the website and I had an account after a few days... At that time, I did not think I would really use it and I was thinking that my Myspace account would be enough. I did not realize how the Facebook was popular and important here. I am still surprised that I had never heard of it when I was in Europe...
I have to say that I became a regular user very fast, and the Facebook was very usefull for me because I did not have a phone. For a few months, it helped me to plan almost all the activities and parties I have been to.
The first reflex I had when I created my account was not to put my real name. I often do that when it's not required. I just put the first letter of my name as a family name, I did not think it would appear on my profile (a lot of websites just put your nickname on the profile...). I also put my account as private, but I agree with Bruce Schneier when he says that "Facebook members are just fooling themselves if they think they can control information they give to third parties." I saw the limits of the private profile when someone uploaded a picture of me, which appear on his public profile... This is a risk, but signing on a website like that implies agreeing to take that sort of risk.
Putting personal information on Internet creates a risk and a loss of control on these informations, and setting profiles as private may limit the risk in a way but will never erase it. (Bruce Schneier summurizes this very well : "Whenever you put data on a computer, you lose some control over it. And when you put it on the internet, you lose a lot of control over it.").
People take the responsability to create or not to create a profile and everyone know (or should know..) that by sharing information online, they won't share them only with their friends. I was surprised to see that the University had an official policy concerning Facebook, and I don't think it is very necessary.
About the fact that potential future employers may use the Facebook to verify who they want to hire, I was very surprised and almost shocked I was told that, but I quikly agreed to say that I'd do the same... However, I should verify it but I am almost sure that this would be illegal in France (meaning that if you could prove that the reason why you haven't been hired is something on your internet profile, you could attack them..) so I am safe for a while on this point.