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March 5, 2007

increasing Internet surveillance

CNet Reports:

The Bush administration has accelerated its Internet surveillance push by proposing that Web sites must keep records of who uploads photographs or videos in case police determine the content is illegal and choose to investigate.
There's also a timeline of proposals for increased data retention that have been made over the past two years. As you might imagine, this has a lot to do with our recent discussions about privacy.

March 4, 2007

FACEBOOK... good or bad?

I have had quite a bit of experience using Facebook. I signed up this Fall, and have been an active and regular participant since. Facebook is an excellent way to reconnect with friends from highschool and childhood who you don’t get a chance to see on a regular basis. This is probably the main reason why I decided to sign up and join the fad.

Privacy is definitely a huge concern when joining any third party online forum. When joining Facebook, I consulted with friends who have had it for years as to what I can do to control the information that is visible for other members to see. First and foremost, I almost never place my address on anything online. Placing your address on Facebook, in my opinion is ridiculous. There’s really no reason to. If a friend wants your address, they can simply privately message you or call you for that particular piece of information.

I think that Bruce Schneier brings up a very good point when he stated, “Unfortunately, Facebook can change the rules whenever it wants. Its Privacy Policy is 2,800 words long, and ends with a notice that it can change at any time. How many members ever read that policy, let alone read it regularly and check for changes?? I know that I personally didn’t read word for word what the policy stated. I knew that by signing up for Facebook that I had to be cautious about the information I decided to add to my profile, because you just never know what will happen and who can obtain this particular information. I think if people are going to become upset about privacy issues regarding online forums such as Facebook and MySpace, maybe they should reconsider using the programs all together. There’s a simple solution to solve this problem, if you are worried about information getting loose, then double think signing up for something like this in the first place. One must know what they’re getting into and the possible outcomes that are associated with the decisions they make.

Overall, if you are cautious and selective about the information you decide to use in Facebook and are cautious and selective when you use Facebook, I don’t think one has much to worry about. There’s always the option to deactivate your account if you aren’t in compliance with Facebook. Like Cornell’s University stated, "Golden Rule. Don't say anything about someone else that you would not want said about yourself. And be gentle with yourself too!?

washingtonienne

Last week, Ramona left an interesting comment on a smart post by Blender. In her comment, she says:

I also read that there was a female blogger who wrote an explicit blog about her dating life, and one of the 'characters', I can't remember whether he worked the White House or the Justice Department, was fired from his job because of it--now he is suing her. So that rule about being careful about including information about one's friends is useful in professional life as well.
What she's referring to here is the Washingtonienne scandal. A few years back Jessica Cutler, an intern on the Hill, wrote a series of blog posts about performing sexual acts with politicians she worked with in exchange for money. The story was broken by Wonkette, a more popular blogger on the Hill who works for Gawker Media. From there, the story blew up in the traditional Big Media venues. Cutler was fired and quickly secured a book deal. which resulted in The Washingtonienne, a Novel. I noticed remainder copies of it at Barnes & Noble the other day. (And yes, I managed to restrain myself from buying one. Although I probably should, just for the "Blog-to-Book" section of my shelves.)

So yes: blogging can get you fired, famous, and infamous. Getting fired for your blog is known as getting dooced, in honor of Heather Armstrong at dooce.com. Her archives are easily searchable if you want to know the whole story behind that.

March 2, 2007

New York Magazine article on privacy

Here’s a well-written article on Kids, the Internet, and the End of Privacy: The Greatest Generation Gap Since Rock and Roll. Danah boyd, who we read a couple of weeks ago, is quoted in it. So is Clay Shirky; we’re not reading his work this semester, but if you’re interested in this sort of thing you should look him up.

Right now the big question for anyone of my generation seems to be, endlessly, “Why would anyone do that?? This is not a meaningful question for a 16-year-old. The benefits are obvious: The public life is fun. It’s creative. It’s where their friends are. It’s theater, but it’s also community: In this linked, logged world, you have a place to think out loud and be listened to, to meet strangers and go deeper with friends. And, yes, there are all sorts of crappy side effects: the passive-aggressive drama (“you know who you are!?), the shaming outbursts, the chill a person can feel in cyberspace on a particularly bad day. There are lousy side effects of most social changes (see feminism, democracy, the creation of the interstate highway system). But the real question is, as with any revolution, which side are you on?

February 25, 2007

Search engines and Privacy

I found a quote by Eric Schmidt who is the CEO of Google and I have to say that it really surprised me. The article itself is about gmail and you guys can visit it at http://www.gmail-is-too-creepy.com. It's titled "Creepy Gmail." In the article, Eric Schmidt states "Search is a force for peace and a better world. Google will reveal how everybody lives and thinks and speaks and looks and that is beneficial to world peace. Societies get along better when they know/see/hear more about each other." I find this quote a little erie because it seems to me like this guys has a really warped idea of what would create world peace. I personally don't think that just because I can look up a picture of someone in Singapore that it will make me want to go out and hug everyone in the world. What purpose could I possibly have in looking up complete strangers online? If anything, I think that this would lead to more stalkers and problems.

Google acting as Big Brother

I found an article called "Google as Big Brother" and I thought that it tied really well with our discussion this week. Check it out at http://www.google-watch.org/bigbro.html. I found it interesting because they talked a lot about the concerns that some people have with Google. The article discussed how Google records every action people make when they log on; it also talked about how Google can access and record all of people's information when they're added to the toolbar menu on people's computers. The toolbar also updates itself without notifying the computer owner, which makes me feel a little bit uncomfortable because I think that any kind of upgrades should first go through the computer owner. There's also information in the article about how Google never says why it is that they need eveyone's information collected and saved. My concern is that they're going to have some sort of thing going on with the government and the CIA for some odd reason. There really should be more limitations and restrictions placed on such a diverse and growing company so that they don't turn on their customers.

So, once again the article is called "Google as Big Brother" and the URL is http://www.google-watch.org/bigbro.html

RIpped from the Headlines:

Did anybody notice this in the St. Paul paper's business section on Saturday? The article, called "When to sell the Goldmine", is about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's decision to continue building the website rather than selling, and the lucrative business of running asocial networking site.

FACEBOOK. Oh you gotta love it?

So, the real reason I joined the facebook was out of pure innocent. I had no idea what sort of power this thing had. My friend’s roommate explained to me that the facebook was something “you can use to see who is going to be in your class and get notes from them and stuff.? Yea right, I have not used that since I edited my privacy options to not listing my classes anymore.

Facebook today is not what I had initially thought, it is a social tool that can be used in a variety of ways, whether for research on a person, stalking, posting pictures, adding notes, or “poking? your friends, it is its own community. Today a few friends of mine refer to it strictly as the Creepbook. I know last year, a girl I am friends with had to erase her facebook account because the workers at her dorm were constantly harassing her through the facebook. Now she has set it up so that only she can “invite? people to see her profile.

Personally I have recently changed my profile so that only my friends can see my “whole? profile. I used to be against it, letting my whole U of M network view it, but not with many employers and alumni with U of M e-mail accounts, as well as teachers, I believe if they are interested in my interests, they should try to get to know me first rather than just stalking. All in all, I feel that the facebook, for the time being, is fun, but I know I will eventually have to erase my profile, all good (digital) things do eventually come to an end.

GoLemur... the new Facebook

On Wednesday I was in a focus group for a company that is coming out with a new "Facebook" called GoLemur. However, this new "Facebook" has a catch to it. You can now get paid for having people visit your site. It is still in the process of figuring out all the quirks to the new program, but I think it seems pretty cool. It's a combonation of MySpace and Facebook where you can design your own page along with posting videos from YouTube and depending on how many people veiw your page and your videos, you would then get paid for how many "hits" you have a month.

The only catch there is, is that you have to pay a certain amount each month or year depending on how "intense " you want to have your page be. You can check this new thing out on www.GoLemur.com


Also, along with PostSecret which I love reading every Sunday, there is another web page "Find of the Day" that posts different letters or notes that people find each day. It is pretty cool to read some of the posts. www.foundmagazine.com

I am a big fan of PostSecret and I look forward to the new posts each Sunday. There are so many secrets out in the world, and if you have read the blog, some of them are pretty deep. I find it interesting the lengths that people go to decorate their postcards. I have each of the books, and am planning on going to see the exhibit this summer with a few of my friends that are also very interested in the blog. I don't feel as though this page is breaking the privacy rights of these people because they volunteer to send in their postcards hoping they will get posted.

February 24, 2007

Go Facebook!!!!oh no they can see me!!!!

Once I finally joined the Facebook brigade I found it quite fun and interesting. I hoenstly originally joined becuse my good friend who is completely obsessed with facebook told me to set up a profile because it is a good way to meet some girls. I had just broken up at the time, so I figured that I could justify joining for this reason. I think I sat at my computer for at least 4 hours setting up my page and basically marketing yourself to be appealing. Then I just sat there and searched and flipped through all the options you had, and could "control" your privacy. Facebook is definitely the premier avenue, if you don't like the sensory overload that myspace has, to stay connected in college. When I would meet new people in my classes here at the U, we would chat for a bit then part ways to our next class but not before we got each others names and said "Hey hit me up on facebook!" Its just apart of my college life now. It is super fun finding and reaquainting yourself with old friends from a past job or even a girl you used to date just to see what they are up to. Facebook has made this so easy, you can basically bypass alot of small talk if or when you see the person live because you have already gathered almost all the relevant small time information you would normaly talk about because of facebook.
With reagards to the privacy issue, especially the mini- newsfeed of facebook, I don't believe we really have any control. I did think the mini-feed was somewhat overkill when first introduced, but facebook does give you some decent privacy options for who sees you and what specific information you want shared. If you do a search for me on facebook, my name will not be found just because that is how I set my privacy options. You can only find me through someone who is already friends with me, and you cna only see my information or pictures if you are friends with me. I do not believe that schools should institute any guidelines (at least college level) on facebook use. Once again the information that students provide could be quite advantagous to universities. We are adults and need to be responsible for what we post about ourselves. Look at the example from the Cornell article about the young man who went to an interview and was turned down because someone in HR had seen his post. The rest of the Cornell article tells us that it is our responsibility to how we market ourselves and what we post and since we have other internet sources that cache information. Since we know that internet institutions have this ability we can or cannot put ourselves at risk on the information highway by what we do post or discuss on the internet. The "Big Brother" syndrome should always be in the back of our minds, and its not going to go away anytime soon.

I do believe that facebook has a responsibility to respect our privacy, or at least the facevalue of it. Maybe they are trafficing our personal information around to others, but honestly just keep it in the dark. I have a friend who is a programmer connected with the government and its scary what they can access at anytime they want, and they will without your consent. This might sound like im just being weak and not wanting to step up and fight for privacy, but remember what Schneier said, "But we all need to remember that much of that control is illusory." I believe this to be quite true and should be somewhere in the thoughts of everyone who uses the internet.

February 21, 2007

Profile Builders Anonymous

Hello. My name is Andrew. I have been Facebook free for...about a day.
I feel compelled to keep up with my social networking sites because I use them mostly to maintain long-distance friendships; friendships which otherwise would be hard to proliferate. There is no doubt though that my information is much more widely available that simply to those I make actual, active, efforts to contact. As far as Facebook is concerned, I have reduced the amount of information displayed about myself for the simple fact that I don't feel it is necessary. When it updates me on people's posts, on another third-party's wall, I feel a bit gluttonous in this new form of global village human experience. At the same time, I have little problem with people seeing my basic profile--it's pretty bare-bones anyhow. It reminds me of someone I heard say "You can't put your phone number online," to the response "Why, what are they going to do? Call me?"
I don't want to contend that people should be more lax with their information however. It is obvious that there must be as a spectrum of options for different levels of comfortability with the specific community in which information is shared. This wide range of options, though, must be observed with an awareness that all information, no matter in what context, could be recovered or examined by a third party. This leaves companies free to deny (legally) responsibility for shared information because the fine print of the internet is just that much easier to skim it seems. Laura Gurak speaks of this in this week's passage. Most frightening of all, aside from over-ambitious companies looking to gloss over the fact that they take and use your information often guiltlessly, is the low amount of awareness among the mass-population of internet users. The head-over-heels acceptance of the internet into our lives goes as deep as the legislation that is repeatedly rushed through approval in a vein attempt to stay up with the times.
This combined with an amazingly massive user-base makes everything high-stakes with unknown odds. The data we covered this week was a fine example of this mass-usage and active participation. A part of the data in "Social Networking Websites and Teens: An Overview" struck me, " 5% of online teens who reported use of a social networking site said they had not posted a profile online, which suggests that there is a very small subset of visitors to social networking websites who merely view the profiles of others and do not create profiles of their own." This illustrates our changing concept of social acceptability regarding the internet and specifically hyper-social sites like Facebook.
I think there is some validity in the writings from the University of Minnesota and Cornell regarding SNS's. It is important that a school at least addresses an issue that will arise in student life, but beyond that, it's a very user-controlled reality. It is a personal choice what to post, and what to omit. Legally and socially, though, universities have no obligation to fulfill. This sentiment seems vaguely present in the two pieces, Cornell's a bit more personal and conversational whereas the University of Minnesota piece was short, concise and formal.
Whatever the case, I think I've found my balance of feeling secure and staying in touch and wouldn't look to the university for guidance in such a matter anyhow, making such informal and unrequited policies seem like more of a public service.

Be Responsible For Your OWN Privacy

I’ve been a member of Facebook for a few years now, but to be honest I’m not a big fan of it. It has been more of a community to re-unite with high school classmates and contact people I’ve met in college rather than a community of true friends for me. Personally, I find the whole privacy issue a bit humorous. Like I’ve said in previous blogs, I am very conscious of what I put in my online profiles. I don’t put anything out there that I don’t want anyone with a computer to see. Fact is not matter how “secure? a website is there will always be someone who finds a way to hack in. I do have to say that I think Facebook is better than some online communities. Theoretically, people can only view your profile if you add them as a friend or if they attend your school. That does narrow down the amount of people who have easy access to your profile. I think this is a good feature compared to Myspace, where you have to manually change your settings so only your friends can see your profile (a hard/confusing task for some). I think it is good for schools to give students guidelines for Facebook use. I think some of the younger students are not as wise with their online use and providing them some warnings or recommendations is a good way for the schools to help them out. I personally don’t think it should be Facebook’s responsibility to protect your privacy. I think it should be your responsibility to be smart about what you put online and protect your own privacy!

Event: We are having 2 kegs and a wop!

Facebook to me is the greatest social tool to be created to this date. My first experience with a completely open online community was with facebook 3 years ago. Since, I have created a social group that consists of far more people than anyone could possibly keep track of. I think of last weeks article on how we define our so called "friends" in our online communities. I would go as far to say that half of my "friends" are only minor acquiantances. However, Facebook allows me the oppurtunity to network with people I would have otherwise not have reached.

I remember the News Feed situation that Schneier's article alludes to. I was very alarmed by the idea that all of my information was being shared to not only my friends but to social acquiantances that I had made. What upset me about the news feed was exactly what Schneier stated; the lack of control I had over my information. Most users would have chosen to use the news feed if just given the option. However, if your not given that option you feel your privacy is being violated which from a humanistic stand point it is. Now the news feed allows us to delete feeds or not allow others to see the feed which gives the user control of his/her profile.

I only allow designated friends of mine to view my profile and from there I limit certain users from viewing pictures or other personal information of mine. My personal privacy at this time I admit is very liberal. I don't try to be very political in my posts or raise other issues that may be controversial just because I know not everyone feels the way I do. I feel that me being a less active user than that of others keeps me private.

Schools should regulate facebook in a way that correlates to their recommendations. The U of M's policy is very open that it basicly says to not be stupid and post things that will make you look like a criminal. Cornell's is more in depth in its explanation of why they are implementing their policy. Both schools seem to have the best intentions for students in mind by reminding them that now is the time where we are young and stupid and that maybe we don't want to be recorded forever that way in history.

Facebooks responsibilty to me is what seperates itself from other social networking sites. The ability to control my privacy and to be a social community builder relating to reality. The success of facebook relies on the users to be able to participate in activities and social events. These events are what builds and creates true friendships.

Privacy and Control

Privacy and the Internet is a battleground and I think the opposing sides are just beginning to amass various weapons of mass destruction. The problem in part as Gurak noted, is that people don't know what their rights are or what the are the rights of the service providers. Copyright is also a grey area. Most important though is the illusion of coziness we may have with ourselves in a home office with a cup of coffee and our computer. Behind that screen, for lack of a better term is not big void of incomprehensible plasticity, but of liquidity--ever-changing, but with a wicked memory, and depth. We have noted that many of these applications are very accessible and friendly, but Gurak says "technologies do their work in the background." (p. 114) Behind all of this simple and easy to use design is a lot of work, code, and data.

I have trouble with the fact that employers see it as a right to look into Facebook or other sites for transgressions of young applicants. To me that steps over a line beyond reference checking. I liked that Cornell steps away from that approach as an institution--"Cornell University is very proud of its policy against monitoring the network for content as a practice." This gives college students a chance to breathe and as the policy states again "make decisions about who you want to be." The idea that every move one makes on a computer is monitored and recorded and indexed---somewhere has the potential to make paranoiacs or exhibitionists of us all.

Sneier contends that the Facebook rebellion was not really about privacy, but about control, and that users of such sites have practically no control at all. He goes on to state that Facebook's privacy policy states that it can change at any time (just like credit card policies and rules). But in a publicly used space is that really the case? It seems to me the outcry proves just the opposite--the feed was removed. This does not mean that Facebook does not have the data or the power to use it in other ways. The example Gurak gave of Amazon's friend matching seems like a similar situation--(supposed) good intentions backfiring. Data and technology are a powerful team, and sometimes I think companies like to dazzle themselves rather than the customer.

I find it kind of sad and limiting that we have to be so careful of providing on-line information, as Gurak says "a good guideline for cyberliteracy is that you should never post anything on the Internet or on e-mail that you would regret seeing in a different context." I would think it takes a lot of the spontenaity out of many interactions. However, it seems like young users (Pew) are aware of such hazards and make good use of privacy settings on social networking sites.

Interests: Facebooking

After about six months of using Facebook, I encountered my first stalker. Prior to this, I had used Facebook to contact friends mainly from high school so I had most of my information such as my new phone number that I had just recently got along with my screen name, address and such. Having Facebook as my first on line community, I didn’t think much of putting all of my information on line. I just thought it would be nice if my friends could access it, if they needed to get a hold of me. Well, as I stated before, I started getting messages from this person that “found? me through Facebook and obviously had all of my information. I started getting letters daily from him, flowers delivered weekly, as well as him leaving me horrid messages. This was my rude awakening about privacy issues. After this incidence, I learned about blocking people and changing your privacy settings. Currently I have my privacy set to the most intense level it can be at which enables me to be completely invisible to people that are not my friends. For instance, if you searched me, my name would not show up. I feel as though this lets me to still be able to use the network as a on line community with my friends and not have to worry about creepers on the web.

Also as a side note, at the beginning of the “news feed? many people were very upset about this feature displaying information that they updated or their friends updated, and Facebook came back with the response that the news feed is not violating privacy issues because everything that is posted on the news feed is open to the pubic, the Facebook crew is just making it more accessible. I also think that it is interesting that the day after the news feed came out; it was the headliner for the Wall Street Journal. Facebook is bigger than anyone ever thought it would be.

In my opinion, I believe that the University does not have any control over Facebook, especially now that you do not have to be part of a network to join Facebook. I have heard of instances where people have been reported to their dorms because of their Facebook pictures. I know that when posting anything on Facebook you are responsible for that particular item, but getting punished in an academic setting for your social life is completely uncalled for coming from the University’s standpoint. Because of this, many people have been changing their last names or spelling their name differently not only because of the University but as companies as well.

Overall, I think that Facebook is the next new communication tool and people just need to be aware of the privacy issues that happen and take charge and change the settings to something that is comfortable to their own taste. As far as the University believes that it has the right to punish people for issues and comments on Facebook, I think they need to take a step back and reconsider this new tool that is being integrated into every college kid’s life.

Google...the 8th Wonder of the World

Looking at the second list of sites I realized that I have seen the PostSecret site. From the first time that I saw it to now...I find it extremely creepy. Regardless if they are random and no one knows who they are from, I feel either bad or horrified at the deeds that some people are willing to get off their chests. There are some things that I believe are going on in this site. I think that this proves how anonymous the internet can be. How many people actually know who sends in these letters? One or two I would think. These people want to admit something but are ashamed or guilty to say it to the people they should be talking too. The internet provides a place for people to be anonymous. This tells me that the Internet is like a free psychologist to tell your problems too. If this trend continues and people continue to admit wrongs that could be crimes authorities will begin to look at these sites. People need to be careful. (I do, however, find it respectable that PostSecrets provides a depression help line and an event for people to express their problems.

I also watched the Google Master Plan video and find it ridiculous. I find it amusing that people continue to accept these conspiracy theories as reality. Google probably is gaining information about those that use it because they are a business. When you get a call from a telemarketer they got you information from another business. This type of marketing has gone on for years. It does not surprise me that people get so worked up on the power of a company and cannot accept its success. If we really wish to be private, why do we have computers, cell phones, or credit cards? Other businesses have been accused of working with authorities and these people have not taken over the United States. If they had wouldn't Bill Gates have been dictator years ago? People need to get over their thoughts and accept Google as a business.

Pinky and the Brain vs. Privacy!

In her book Cyberliteracy,Laura Gurak tells us about the sobering fact that law enforcement agencies can legally use words that you have posted on the internet as evidence in a court of law (Gurak 112). Once you post a comment on a blog, or send an email, that information is no longer in your control. It makes me worry about how my own comments could be twisted and used against me.

Over the past few years I have been frequently posting comments on various news sites and blogs. The topic usually revolves around politics and our ailing election system. I've posted comments on topics regarding the electronic paperless voting machines that were furnished to some states by the Help America Vote Act. These untested machines were somehow supposed to be an improvement over the older machines that at least provided a paper record of citizen’s votes. I was outraged to find out that these new machines provided no reliable record of the votes that they were counting. An electronic tabulation could be manipulated or lost in the blink of an eye. Having a background in electronics, I know full well that it was a terrible decision to use these machines. So I voiced my outrage online and hoped it would make a difference.

Looking back, I wonder if anything I said could be used against me. I shouldn't worry, I never go over the top and call for people's heads or anything (oops I just did!). But it does get me wondering about people's rights to the words that they post on the web. It would be great if there were basic protections to people's postings. Maybe including your email address with you comments could be a sort of postage stamp that protects your words from ever being used against you. And if you are in fact an evil psycho, the authorities can then get a warrant to inspect your transactions.

I have to say that I am not a fan of the practice of data mining. When I'm online, I'd rather that my information stays private. I hear stories about how companies are taking and selling their client's personal information and I think that it's deplorable. Take Facebook for instance. Bruce Schneier claims that Facebook owns all of the data that its members upload to their site. Basically, Facebook can sell its customers personal data to anyone they wish. I think that it would a good idea if our government passed legislation that would prohibit this practice.

Another data nightmare that comes to mind is the frequent reports of corporate and government employees that somehow lose their laptop computers that contain the data and personal information of millions of people. There was an occurrence just recently where the Veterans Administration lost a hard drive that contained the data of 1.8 million people. The article claims that millions of social security numbers may have been lost. This loss of valuable data could hurt a lot of people. Here's the link to the story. http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/nation/4548367.html

As for Facebook in general, I just signed up so I don't know a lot about it. It's different from other networking sites like Myspace in that you can actually hook into local communities. This seems nice because you can communicate with people that live in your general area. In a way, I feel that this makes for more of a personal online community because the people that you interact with are actually living in your real world community. A community conundrum if you will!


In Facebook I trust

I trust in the current privacy guidelines set up by Facebook and understand that I am responsible for the amount and degree of information I post.

I thought the readings chosen for this week were very applicable to the discussion of privacy and Facebook. In which case I have organized my blog into four sections covering various points from the articles.

1. Social Networkig Sites and Teens (Lenhart & Madden)

The article states that their study shows girls are using online social networks to reinforce friendships and boys in addition are using the networkd to flirt and meet new friends. The statistic is that 70% of girls are using these networks vs. 54% of boys. My personal response to this is that older girls are at an age of insecurity. I think places such as Myspace and Facebook can boost a girls self esteem and provide a sense of community during these interesting yet challenging years. Teenage boys using networks to flirt and meet new "friends" is understandable based on there curiousity in the other sex and sexual exploration at this age. This is a random arguement but sums up my thoughts of the reasons teens may seek to use online social networks.

2. Living in Online Communities
I believe it is great that the U of M is responding to the need to educate students about posting information on online communities. My favorite piece of advice was when posting items online consider if you have your friends permission to post pictures or stories of them online. This applies to me and my facebook community in a way that I do not appreciate friends putting certain pictures of myself online. I want to chose the pictures and stories I am apart of online, period. I don't appreicate the ability of others to paint the way others may perceive me through these social networks.

3. Thoughts on Facebook (Mitrano, 2006)
II. Caching
Under this section was my favorite quote from all of the readings:

"Don't give people an excuse to think of you in a single dimensional way. Instead of trying just to fit into a single group, think about yourself as an interesting person with depth of personality and character. What you put out on Facebook about yourself should be an invitation to the rest of the world to get to know you better." (Mitrano, 2006)

Perhaps these online communities are challenging students to perceive how others see them which I think represents a strong validation for such networking.

4. Lessons from Facebook Riots (Schneider, 2006)

This article was most useful when reviewing my personal thoughts of privacy and Facebook.

For example it begins the article discussing the implementation of "News Feeds" and the follow-up of privacy options. I was a member of Facebook previous to the News Feeds and upon implementation of this so-called tool I was upset that I did not have control of other people tracking my new adds, profile adjustments, etc. I found myself using Facebook less and feeling less confident in my online privacy. Upon implementation of the privacy options I strengthened my privacy and have since felt more comfortable about my Facebook participation.

The only personal policy I have implemented is to not become obsessive of checking my Facebook. I admit that it at times serves as a distraction but am not concerned about an overuse of time spent networking through this community.

Upon proposing the question if schools should concern themselves with Facebook pages and develop guidelines I referred back to the study of Social Networking Sites and Teens by Lenhart and Madden. They stated that 42% of students are spending time at school on their online social networks. This had proposed a concern to me and in response I believe that schools should not allow this participation during school hours. Students are not using these networks to improve their education or professional skills so in the case of highschool students it is best if this participation takes place at home.

The final question is what responsibility Facebook has to respecting my privacy?

This question will require some additional pondering. I will address this question in a later blog.

In Facebook I trust

I trust in the current privacy guidelines set up by Facebook and understand that I am responsible for the amount and degree of information I post.

I thought the readings chosen for this week were very applicable to the discussion of privacy and Facebook. In which case I have organized my blog into four sections covering various points from the articles.

1. Social Networkig Sites and Teens (Lenhart & Madden)

The article states that their study shows girls are using online social networks to reinforce friendships and boys in addition are using the networkd to flirt and meet new friends. The statistic is that 70% of girls are using these networks vs. 54% of boys. My personal response to this is that older girls are at an age of insecurity. I think places such as Myspace and Facebook can boost a girls self esteem and provide a sense of community during these interesting yet challenging years. Teenage boys using networks to flirt and meet new "friends" is understandable based on there curiousity in the other sex and sexual exploration at this age. This is a random arguement but sums up my thoughts of the reasons teens may seek to use online social networks.

2. Living in Online Communities
I believe it is great that the U of M is responding to the need to educate students about posting information on online communities. My favorite piece of advice was when posting items online consider if you have your friends permission to post pictures or stories of them online. This applies to me and my facebook community in a way that I do not appreciate friends putting certain pictures of myself online. I want to chose the pictures and stories I am apart of online, period. I don't appreicate the ability of others to paint the way others may perceive me through these social networks.

3. Thoughts on Facebook (Mitrano, 2006)
II. Caching
Under this section was my favorite quote from all of the readings:

"Don't give people an excuse to think of you in a single dimensional way. Instead of trying just to fit into a single group, think about yourself as an interesting person with depth of personality and character. What you put out on Facebook about yourself should be an invitation to the rest of the world to get to know you better." (Mitrano, 2006)

Perhaps these online communities are challenging students to perceive how others see them which I think represents a strong validation for such networking.

4. Lessons from Facebook Riots (Schneider, 2006)

This article was most useful when reviewing my personal thoughts of privacy and Facebook.

For example it begins the article discussing the implementation of "News Feeds" and the follow-up of privacy options. I was a member of Facebook previous to the News Feeds and upon implementation of this so-called tool I was upset that I did not have control of other people tracking my new adds, profile adjustments, etc. I found myself using Facebook less and feeling less confident in my online privacy. Upon implementation of the privacy options I strengthened my privacy and have since felt more comfortable about my Facebook participation.

The only personal policy I have implemented is to not become obsessive of checking my Facebook. I admit that it at times serves as a distraction but am not concerned about an overuse of time spent networking through this community.

Upon proposing the question if schools should concern themselves with Facebook pages and develop guidelines I referred back to the study of Social Networking Sites and Teens by Lenhart and Madden. They stated that 42% of students are spending time at school on their online social networks. This had proposed a concern to me and in response I believe that schools should not allow this participation during school hours. Students are not using these networks to improve their education or professional skills so in the case of highschool students it is best if this participation takes place at home.

The final question is what responsibility Facebook has to respecting my privacy?

This question will require some additional pondering. I will address this question in a later blog.

Facebook...the Evil of the World.

I’ve been on the facebook for three years. I started on it in 2004. A lot of my experiences with facebook involve both benevolent uses and malevolent uses as well. On facebook I’ve stayed in touch with old friends, contacted them, and traded pictures. I also made my relationship with my girlfriend “facebook official.? However, facebook has been used for slander as well. I’ve been threatened by a person on facebook before, and I’ve seen people hounded by facebook groups as well.

Due to malevolent uses of the facebook, I have censored by profile a bit. I keep crazy pictures off of it; I do not give out my phone number, and I almost never leave wall posts. This is mostly because I do not want employers to see it, or the University of Minnesota. This is because, “Pictures or other evidence of illegal behavior, such as underage drinking, could put you at risk for legal consequences, including violations of the Student Conduct Code and Housing and Residential Life policies (The University of Minnesota, Student Code of Conduct).? Also, stated in Bruce Schnieder’s article; “Facebook members are just fooling themselves if they think they can control information they give to third parties.? Due to both of these factors, I think the only one responsible for what people know about one is YOU. As far as facebook is concerned, if one does not want others to know something about oneself, then do not post personal information on the internet. This is because once one posts upon the internet, their post can be queried, and searched for. Likewise, when one posts upon the internet, one volunteers thier information. Consequently, facebook has no responsibility to keep posted information secret. This is because the facebooker has already volunteered their information to the facebook and its wider community.

Facebook is smarter than I

I’ll start off by saying I’ve never like Facebook. To me, Facebook seems cluttered, and I don’t like the idea that it is marketed towards students. I don’t want my online communication to be limited to a specific age group, where there are other blogging sites that I feel do a better job of integrating people of all age groups, student or not, into a blogging community.
I do not, however, feel that the privacy issues that were raised in the readings have ever affected me. More importantly, it would be a terrible idea to gather information from personal blogs, as there is no way to tell what is truth and what is fiction. I find that many of the blogs I read have profiles that amuse me, which I think is the intent in most cases.
I tell the truth in my blog, and that is the very reason I stay away from Facebook. On Facebook, you are identified by your name, and are required to imput your school email. This alone takes away more privacy than I want to be taken away; I’d prefer to remain anonymous. Under the cover on anonymity, I am fine with posting anything and everything, not that I do.
One thing that interested me, was that Facebook states that they have the right to alter their rules whenever they see fit (Schneier). At first, this seemed to be unacceptable, but the more I thought about it, it is completely necessary. Because the internet is still new and changing, with controversy over sometimes vague rules and regulations, leaving itself in a position to change the rules whenever they want is like a get out of jail free card. With this being the case, Facebook is free to say they have no responsibility over your privacy.

Facebook Has Covered Its Bases on Privacy

I feel like I could write a book about my impressions and experiences with Facebook! I have been using it for almost 2 years now, and have seen its interface and functionality evolve substantially. I must say that I liked the oldest version of Facebook the most. This is because it was simple, clean, easy to use and a little less intrusive! The live news feed about what EVERYONE is doing EVERY second of the day is a little much. Although, I am starting to adapt to it and find it helpful once in awhile to remind me of an event or let me know what old friends are up to. The privacy issues are quite important for me to manage. I am under the most limited view profile. I only let my friends see my profile and pictures. One reason I do this is because I am aware that if I don’t I have opened myself up to ALL of the public. (Because now Facebook is opened to anyone). I also do not participate in the section where it asks you how you know someone. I think this can give away a lot of personal things and so I just skip that step. Additionally, when a random person asks to be my friend, instead of just saying yes, I say no! I have to know the person pretty well or have a class with them in order to allow them access to my profile. I think what I am most protective about are my pictures. If I am tagged in a picture I wouldn’t want my grandma to see, I delete it, ask someone who posted it to delete it, or untag it. (This doesn’t happen very often! But, there are times when I wouldn’t want a future employer or “my grandma? to see the picture!)
I do not think schools should concern themselves about Facebook pages. It would be quite an undertaking and full-time job to monitor content. Maybe, though, it could be a way for schools to note or see problems a student may be having (especially high school), and a way to catch illegal activity. Even though students may think it is cool to have pictures and quotes up that are inappropriate, it is a signal to schools that misbehavior is occurring. I do not think that finding something on Facebook is enough, though, to substantiate getting in trouble. More physical proof is needed in my opinion.
Facebook should be very careful about others’ privacy. They should let users know ahead of time when a change is about to occur, so that users can make adjustments accordingly. Additionally, it might be helpful if Facebook sent out a note reminding users to check out their policy statement…and maybe even make an abbreviated or annotated one!
As for the readings, I was very enlightened by the differences in the two school policies listings. Also, the first article from the PEW study seemed obvious and affirmed some of my assumptions about MySpace and Facebook. The most interesting table was: (PEW 5).
Less than $50,000 55%
$50,000 or more 56
Race/ethnicity
White, non-Hispanic 53%
Non-white 58
What this table tells me is that income and race really has no affect on users. This also tells me the playing field has been leveled, and that all types of teenagers are participating. Thus, it is truly a representative sample. I also think the marketing and targeting companies can do to this age group are astounding and the opportunity is large.
My favorite two quotes that are so contrasting from the Schools’ policies are: “
It is very important that you read the terms and conditions for any Web site where you create an account? (U of M 1) and “Think not only about what identity you create for yourself online, but also how you represent others? (Cornell 2).
The U of M’s policies are so dry and straightforward, and Cornell’s are actually helpful. Cornell gives specific examples that actually might make you think “Gee, sucks for him, I better be careful.? The U of M quote about reading the policies is funny, because I bet there are a select few users who have read through ALL of them. I do think the more worried users read through portions, but I cannot imagine someone reading through all of them.
Lastly, the quote from the Schneider affirms what I thought previously. “Unfortunately, Facebook can change the rules whenever it wants. Its Privacy Policy is 2,800 words long, and ends with a notice that it can change at any time. How many members ever read that policy, let alone read it regularly and check for changes?? (Schneider 2). I doubt many people fully understand that the rules can change at anytime. It is pretty smart, though, of Facebook to say this. It means they will have very limited liability in the case of lawsuits.

Facebook: Do they know more about us than we do?

I first joined Facebook my sophomore year of college (Fall of 2004). This was when it was known as The Facebook, because when typing it into the address bar, you wouldn’t get anywhere without typing “the?. The reason I joined Facebook was because two of my roommates had, and one of them pointed out to me that it was a great way to keep on contact with people from high school. So, naturally, I created a profile for myself, and instantly I had a plethora of “friend invites? from old high school friends. It was actually kind of nice to see what they were up to. Since then, that has been the extent to what I have used Facebook for. Never mind. I actually used it onetime to look up people who were in one of my classes and messaged them to see if they knew what the homework was, because I couldn’t get hold of the professor. It proved useful in this case too. However, one of my roommates used the Facebook in a completely different way. He would spend hours and hours a night on it, messaging and poking (I always thought the “poking? thing was completely ridiculous, but hey…to each their own) as many girls as he could. Yup….he’s THAT guy. The weird thing is that it actually worked. He received a couple dates from the process, and even one “random hookup?. Due to extremely thin walls, it was exactly at that moment that I realized the true capability and power of the Facebook. I thought it was amazing that this one program could actually be used as a social network

As far as privacy issues go, I feel that the Facebook is a spawning ground for private issues that you don’t want to get out, to eventually go public. I personally am decently protective of myself on the Facebook. I don’t give out my phone number in my personal info, nor do I go into detail about my interests, or favorite anythings. I don’t like it when people post or “tag? pictures of me up on my profile, so I usually delete them if it happens. I’ve never invited anyone to be my friend, and don’t do the wall posts. I guess as Baym put it, I’m more of a watcher than anything. The PEW and American Life Study showed us that 66% of teens who have created profiles limit access to their profile pages. I also do not let my profile be viewed by just anyone. In order to view my profile, I either have to accept a friend request from them (which I actually give some thought to), or they had to go to my high school.

I have no problem with how the University of Minnesota and Cornell University are taking action with Facebook. They are not intruding into the space of the students, or banning it by any means. Instead, I see it as the university warning the students of the possibilities that Facebook brings, so they don’t do anything that would ruin their future. In the Cornell University Facebook Policy, they state that students should follow the “Golden Rule,? which is, “don't say anything about someone else that you would not want said about yourself. And be gentle with yourself too! What might seem fun or spontaneous at 18, given caching technologies, might prove to be a liability to an on-going sense of your identity over the longer course of history.? I find this to be great advice for all students to follow when using any aspect of the internet. The possibilities of information that can be gained from our computer using habits are so amazing that it’s actually scary.

Along those same lines, Facebook is the legal owner of any information that people put on it. I completely agree with Bruce Schneier saying, “When Facebook unilaterally changed the rules about how personal information was revealed, it reminded people that they weren't in control. Its 9 million members put their personal information on the site based on a set of rules about how that information would be used.? I believe that Facebook has a contract with all if its members, and does not need to abide by anything else. Morally, I do not think that it is right. However, with many companies in the business world, what’s legal is the new definition of being moral.

The many Faces of Facebook

My first impressions of facebook where amazement. A fellow student introduced me to facebook around 2 years ago or so and I was hooked instantly. Now I have realized that there isn't a whole lot to it. It doesn't have a lot of features like instant messaging and things like that. If they were to intergrade these features eventually on facebook that would be a real plus. However, I think it's pretty innovative and lets you stay in touch with old high school buddies and other college friends from all over the world. I have a cousin that I don't get to talk to a lot because of the time difference because she lives in London. So it work well communication through facebook and looking at each others pictures over what we did the past weekend and so on.

The privacy issues that facebook has raised I have now not given really any of my location information or my cell phone number or anything. At first, I didn't think there was much of a privacy issue with all the information that facebook had, the Schneier points to this issue, ... "all it did was take available data and aggregate it in a novel way for what it perceived was its customers' benefit. Facebook members instinctively understood that making this information easier to display was an enormous difference, and that privacy is more about control than about secrecy." (Shneire, 1). I didn't realize how complicated this privacy issue really was until I read this article. Shneier points this out in another part of the article, "Privacy used to be about secrecy. Someone defending himself in court against the charge of revealing someone else's personal information could use as a defense the fact that it was not secret. But clearly, privacy is more complicated than that." (Schneier, 1).

Some of the policies that I have adopted is just not giving out any location information like I have pointed out earlier. I think it's important not to give that information out to just anyone. Especially now when anyone can log in and see anyone profile.

I think that schools shouldn't be too concerned with the privacy issues. I think that resets more with facebook. I think that they should, I'm not sure if they don't already, give you privacy notice before you sign up and also send you a privacy notice when you log on maybe every month. I think if they give us some educational material about privacy issues and have that displayed right when you log on, that would help benefit us instead of schools getting involved and having there own policies. It also means, however, that it is up to you to set your own limits and create your own identity and to be responsible for the consequences, given that you live in the real world of rules, judicial discipline, employers with their own interests as well as other people who, like it or not, will make judgments about what they see. (Cornell University article 1).


Facebook has a pretty big interest in protect our privacy. I think that if you use a service were you can virtually tell people who you are, what you like, where you work, where you hang out, your phone number, e-mail address, etc. they have a responsiblity for letting you know the consequences of giving out this information to anyone that can log in and use it illegaly.


Face(less)book

I found Facebook to be an interesting online community. But I need to experiment further before I decide to become part of the community. I have handled the privacy issues Facebook raises by entering only the required profile information for myself and narrowing the search criteria people are allowed to look for in my contact information as I indicate in the next paragraph. I am not paranoid, I am very security conscious and I don’t want to populate my Facebook profile with private information until I have evaluated Facebook’s worth vs. the information I may decide to share. I think that this is the balance we need to be constantly aware of when sharing private information on the internet.

I modified my Facebook ‘My Privacy’ settings for Profile for all of the default settings for my Contact Information from ‘all my networks and all my friends’ to ‘only my friends’. I also modified all of the default settings for Profile Features from ‘all my networks and all my friends’ to ‘only me’. I further modified My Privacy settings for Search to ‘only my fiends’ in college networks to narrow the search scope for this course. Of course Facebook has no responsibility to observe my privacy configurations as Facebook reserves the right to change their policy at any time (Schneier, B., Lessons from the Facebook Riots, p. 3).

I certainly can understand how students have run into serious issues regarding their postings on Facebook. An example of this was the male student posting intimate details about himself and later discovering he had not gotten a job because the potential employee discovered his postings (Tracy Mitrano, T., Cornell University, Thoughts on Facebook, p. 2).

I do not think schools have an obligation to concern themselves with a students Facebook pages or need to develop guidelines for their use. However, having read the two guidelines for this weeks reading from Cornell (Mitrano) and the University of Minnesota (Regents of the University of Minnesota, Living in Online Communities: A User's Guide), in my opinion it certainly is the responsible thing to do. Schools are institutions of learning and educating students about the responsible use of online communities is important. After all, not all students will be fortunate enough to take Rhet 3401.

Get Out of My Face....book

When Facebook was created I thought it was a great idea. It was a way for college students to keep in touch and post interesting things about themselves so their friends can learn things that they didn't know before. However, my opinion changed when it decided to open Facebook to anyone and turn into a MySpace. I do have a Facebook page and as I get closer to graduation and a job, I become more and more aware of the things that are posted, tagged, or claimed on my profile. I have considered whether or not I should discontinue my membership altogether but have not because I enjoy the site. I have also considered removing my tags from all my pictures that feature me consuming beverages. While I am 22, some companies may look done on this. Some other things that I have done to keep my privacy hidden is used their more advanced privacy features where only friends can see my full profile. I believe that Facebook has done a decent job of addressing its member's concerns when it began the newsfeed and making it open for everyone. Along with the steps I have already mentioned with keeping myself private, I also have tried to leave all the groups that deal with drinking and removed all the comments that may be pro-partying.

In the Schneier article, "Facebook should have added the feature as an option, and allow members to opt in if they wanted to. Then, members who wanted to share their information via News Feeds could do so, and everyone else would not have felt they had no say in the matter." They have actually implemented privacy that revolves around this statement. I believe that Facebook has tried to keep people from leaving and better privacy issues are a way to do this

In regards to the question whether schools should concern themselves with Facebook and other social networks, my answer is: If they want to yes. I think Cornell and the U do a good job recognizing the harms that can come to those that use social network sites. The schools use their students in graduation and job placement statistics and the more good jobs that graduating students get, the better it looks for that University.

In all honesty, I think that Facebook has hardly any responsibilities when it comes to our privacy. We let this go out the window when we agree to the contract. If someone does not like it, leave. Some of the information needs to be private for high schools kids. However, when we reach 18, we have to control what gets put on the internet.

I also looked at the data in the PEW research and I have trouble finding the relevance to what we are discussing. I am assuming that everyone on this site is over the age of 18. Therefore, while I do find some of the data interesting; such as the fact that 91% of the teens use it to stay in touch with someone they see alot, I do not feel like this article is relevant to the class.

In Gurak (113) she talks about Big Brother and how they are tracking us using sites like Amazon. However, I believe that they could track people much better using social networking sites. They could get a much better feel of what our likes and dislikes are. It is scary to think what the future holds but we need to recognize that Facebook has privacy settings for a reason. So use these sites with your own caution and make sure you don't post anything that you don't want the world to see.

Book 'em, Danno.

I hadn't used FaceBook until this week. Most of my friends aren't affiliated with the U, so it isn’t very useful to me. I was looking at it once, and found my old dentist-in-training from the U's student clinic, and so could see where he's practicing now. Which I suppose is good if I wanted to track him down, although if I’d found pictures of him doing things I found distasteful, I probably wouldn't want his hands in my mouth anymore.

I've chosen to put relatively little information on my profile, and no picture of myself, and I'll more than likely delete it after this week. I've had momentary profiles on other sites, but generally nothing with my real name or anything that identifies me personally.

I don't think schools should feel they need to protect students from themselves. In the real (non-college) world, cops investigate and prosecute law-breakers, employers look for dirt, and people stalk each other. That’s how we learn how to act— by experiencing the consequences of our words and actions. I think schools are developing policies and “Thoughts? largely for legal and business reasons. If a college can show that students were given fair warning about the perils of FaceBook, they stand less of a chance of being sued by someone who didn’t get the job they wanted because of their online history. Since the student body reflects on the school, it’s in the best interest of any institution to keep their image as shiny and respectable as possible— that way, parents will want to send their kids there and alumni will want to keep making donations.

I agree with Mitrano’s statement in Cornell’s “Thoughts on FaceBook?: “On FaceBook, you have absolutely no expectation of privacy.?(Section IV) To me, FaceBook is a business, and doesn't have any responsibility to do anything but make money. It doesn't pretend to be truly concerned with serving its users while taking nothing in return; Facebook makes money off of our willingness to give up information about ourselves. Users get a social networking opportunity, and advertisers get a captive audience of young, educated consumers. “Young adults are the primary trend drivers in our society. Marketing to young adults on their own terms is critical for success. Facebook offers relevant and integrated advertising opportunities to engage the tech-savvy youth audience. We can help you develop the ideal Facebook advertising solution that reaches an active audience of youth trend-setters and influencers. “(From FaceBook’s ‘advertise’ section)

Why Facebook?

A while ago, I never would have thought I'd be signing up for one of those social networking sites. The idea of thousands, possibly even millions of anonymous people being able to read all about me at any time just didn't appeal to me. But then my roommate last year introduced me to Facebook, and it just seemed different somehow at the time. For one thing, you needed your university ID to even access the site, and when you got there, nearly all the people there had actual names and faces, not pseudonyms hiding behind avatars. Also, everyone I've befriended since then I have at least some passing familiarity with in real life. It's been an invaluable tool for keeping track of certain people I otherwise would have totally lost all connection to as soon as I left high school. Maybe I was slightly ignorant back then, but now I've certainly heard the horror stories, people getting turned down for jobs or even arrested because of things they posted on Facebook. The story in the Cornell University article about the student who was turned down for a job because of what he posted in a chat room is particularly chilling for me because this tells me that could happen anywhere online. Because of this, I've made sure not to post any extremely personal information on my Facebook profile beyond fairly mundane things about school and random interests.

However, knowing about stories like those, I have to wonder, how much is too much? While I know people should be aware that the internet is a very public place, couldn't some people be intentionally led into a sense of false privacy? After all, what's the point of privacy settings if your Facebook profile isn't really private anyway? Seven hundred thousand people were outraged when every single move they made on Facebook was suddenly tracked by the "news feed," not an insignificant number by any means (Schneier, Lessons From the Facebook Riots). Would that many people have made such a fuss if the ownership of the information posted on Facebook was common knowledge? It might be a sign that more people need to be educated on this serious issue, but still, the companies being entrusted with this kind of information don't seem to be all that concerned with letting you know about it.

FaceBook and the Presidential Race

Jill Walker at jill/txt points out that John Edwards, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton all have FaceBook profiles. The comments on Jill’s post are brief but interesting: there’s some pondering about whether or not this is an effective use of FaceBook and whether or not it actually reaches voters. What do you smart people think?

***

And, because I wouldn’t ask any of you to do something I wouldn’t do myself, I now have a FaceBook profile. Just in case you wondered.

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.

February 20, 2007

Spreading like wildfire...down a slippery slope

I remember back in early 2004 sitting in my friend's basement after school one day when she turned away from her laptop to me to ask: "Does your school have a facebook?" At that point I had no idea what the facebook was or what it was all about. I decided to check it out and noticed that it seemed to be limited to a couple east coast schools so I quickly lost all interest. I remember thinking it was a good idea, an opportunity for people to learn a little about the people that they would be living with when they went to school. It seemed like nothing more than a freshman year name game type of thing...I guess I was wrong.

Flash forward 6 months or so. I happened to overhear someone talking in the dorms about the facebook and decided I might as well give it a whirl. I didn't really put much information in it. It seemed like a waste of my time to sit there and type about myself when I could be out meeting real live people (and it still seems that way). Over the year I would add a little tidbit about music or movies here and there but never anything I wouldn't tell someone upon meeting them for the first time. My experience with facebook was rather uneventful. That didn't last long.

Towards the end of my freshman year, when I was admittedly young and stupid, a couple of my friends and I (all engineering students) found ourselves discussing the problems often encountered when using a beer bong (again, young and stupid). We concocted a plan over lunch that day for a beer bong that used basic laws of density to automatically filter out and recycle foam. We built this contraption and one of my friends decided that there needed to be a facebook group dedicated to this feat of modern dorm room engineering.

That was where things went terribly wrong.

The picture that was used for the group showed the device hanging in front of a dorm window. Hall management caught wind of this and decided to use it as grounds for a punishment. Now this group never said anything about drinking, the tubes were empty in the picture and there was nothing to suggest we used this contraption in the dorms. Over the course of the next couple weeks I was informed to remove evidence of Frontier Hall from the picture so I changed the background of the image...to a different window. Ultimately, I was told that the group had to be taken off of the facebook all together.

I could live with being punished for being stupid and building that thing in the dorms but the thought being told what I could and could not do in a medium that is completely unaffiliated with the U infuriated me. I used the group as a means to voice my opinion about Housing and Residential Life's ability to punish me for what I say on the internet. About a month later and after exchanging some nasty letters with upper management I stopped hearing anything from HRL. To this day I was never informed what decisions were made and put on my housing record but I digress.

Sorry for the long-winded anecdote however I think this story touches on most of issues we are discussing this week.

First, my friends and I were careless about the information we divulged about ourselves in this community. We did something stupid and then decided to tell the world about it. Low and behold it came back to bite us in the end.

From here we dive into the sticky subject of policy based internet information, which is (ironically) a very slippery slope. The majority of the trouble I had to deal with as a result of this incident was a result of challenging unwritten policy. It could be policy that students remove association with the University when they portray themselves doing unsavory things but at what point do we draw the line? How do we deal with the fact there's no way to know how much of this activity is being caught? And the ultimate question, can we tell people what they can and cannot say at all?

Facebook gave me a way to deal with problems like this. Now, anyone who is not my "friend" gets a very limited view of me if anything at all. I think this is a feature that goes overlooked by many using the service. People can't be surprised when they open their life to the world if someone the don't quite expect finds out about it. I think facebook has done a good job of protecting privacy by providing the user with the tools to do what they are comfortable with.

I really like the Cornell policy on the facebook. They embrace the open nature of the internet and furthermore use it as a means of encouragement to students to think about what they post. They touch on the subject of freedom of speech and acknowledge the fact that there is really no implied freedom on private networks. They can tell you what you can and cannot do. However again they embrace the free flow of information as a tool that can be used for good and/or evil if you will.

It all boils down to the fact that the internet is the largest and longest running jury trial ever argued. Everybody involved is a defendant, a prosecutor, and a juror. Ultimately what you do will be judged by your peers (in the broad sense of internet users). If they find you guilty, chances are you did something wrong and therefore have to deal with the consequences. The only way to avoid scrutiny is to keep a clean nose. (Bob Dylan's words seem to fit well.)

Facebook Attack

Let me be clear: I am not much of a Facebook user. The personal policies that I follow when posting to Facebook needn't be over-engineered: I generally only use Facebook as a tool to keep up on the people I know. They would, I think, find it quite difficult to use Facebook to keep tabs on me, simply because I don't particularly care to create any content.

I am, however, aware of the possible privacy issues that Facebook raises, and I certainly didn't need anyone to tell me that publishing data to the internet will result in other people being able to access that data. In this respect, I think it would be good for schools to provide guides to Facebook use, much like Cornell does, as there might be someone, somewhere, who doesnt't understand this fact about online content. However, I think that it would be a step in the wrong direction for a university to limit students' access to Facebook and similar communities. Why? Because a university should be in the business of upholding the value of free speech, even when exercising that freedom might be stupid.

I think that one very important privacy issue raised by Facebook is the social repercussion of posting pictures of people. I have managed to mitigate this risk through two highly ingenious techniques: not taking many pictures, and not having many friends (who might take my picture, and in general). So for me, this issue is really a nonissue. However, as many of the anecdotes emphasized (in, for example, the Cornell policy), having publically viewable and searchable images (or other postings), and a way to associate such data with "real" people, can result in dramatic "real world" effects. While I have never experienced any "real world fallout" from Facebook, it does happen. This issue is related, I think, to the ability for anyone to take a photo of anything, anywhere, and quickly post it to the internet. This ability really sprung up with the advent of camera-phones, and has muddied the area of intellectual property quite a bit. That is, who owns a photo taken of a public place or event? Similarly, who "owns" an image taken at a party and posted on Facebook? The photographer? The subject? Perhaps both, in some way, though I am not an IP lawyer (and hope to never become one).

Unfortunately, at least according to the law, it is clear that Facebook has almost no legal responsibility to protect or respect its users' privacy. In my opinion, it has a moral one, but when has that stopped any company in the business of making money? The last line of Facebook's privacy policy, as stated in "Lessons From the Facebook Riots", makes it clear that Facebook is not concerned with the privacy of its users. What's more, the official response to the Facebook riots makes it clear that Facebook is, *gasp*, a business. That is, instead of instituting a clear and permanent privacy policy aimed at protecting users, it fixed a symptom of the problem to keep users happy, but did nothing to fix the problem itself.

"Lessons" goes on to discuss how a user of an online community generally does not have any control of how their data is used. While the author makes a valid point about the legal reasons that the community's users have no control, the "Facebook Riots" made it clear that a community's users have the same power over a provider that a consumer has over a company. That is, Facebook users "boycotted", in a certain sense, changes, and those changes were "fixed". Facebook depends on its users for funding (through advertisements, amongst other ways I am sure). Finally, even ignoring this form of control, events like "YTMND-Day" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YTMND) make it clear that the members of an online community, when drawn together by common cause, can be as powerful (and as impetuous) as a "real" community.

Finally, achieving privacy on the internet is almost impossible. Some people working to make it a bit easier are the freenet project (http://www.freenetproject.org). If you are interested in anonymity and privacy on the internet, take the time to browse their site.

The Facebook Era

This weeks reading on privacy in social networking sites illustrated to me
just how scary it can be to put peronsal information on myspace or
facebook. In the past, privacy issues online has always just meant
financial information, credit card numbers, social security numbers, etc.
I've never (until this weeks assignment) used a social networking site for
myself personally, I've only used a myspace account on behalf of my band. I
haven't put a whole lot of thought into what is shared on that page seeing
that it is a group and getting exposure, advertising, and personability
with anyone who might like your songs are the main focuses of my use. But
after the readings, especially the Wired article, I realize that in
creating a myspace or facebook site for yourself, you're making a
representation of yourself for use in that sphere. Any aspects of that
representation however personal or minute that you put online can stand in
your place for anyone that looks at it. I was surprised at the anecdote
given in Cornell's Thoughts on Facebook about the student who lost a chance at a job because of a post he made online. It really clearly illustrates the point that what you do online is nearly the same as what you do in real life. It also surprised me to learn that businesses will actually search online for comments made by job applicants in effort to weed out poor candidates. It seems an extreme streaming tool to me, expecting applicants to have conducted themselves like fine upstanding employees before even knowing about the job, unless he was applying for work as a fireman or an astronaut. Of course, I don't know the details of the situation, so maybe I shouldn't defend what I don't know.

Anyways, I never spent a whole lot of time thinking about what I post online, but personal information about yourself, where you go to school, work, who you hang out with, and even what you're doing at specific points of the day could be as dangerous and leaving your social security number in a blog for anyone to see. On Facebook, I noticed that they didn't spend much time telling me as a newly registered member about privacy concerns, except of course in their privacy policy. But as an internet user for all these years, I've grown accustomed to always accepting those agreements and I don't think I've ever looked at one closely. Schneier's point that Facebook owns all the data uploaded on the site really struck me. It's clear that special care must be taken when considering what you can post online.

On another note, the Google Masterplan site brought to mind this article from The Onion. "Google Announces Plan to Destroy Everything It Can't Index"

We can't hide, nothing is private

I now have a profile on Facebook. I feel myself getting younger each day in this class. I only included the basic information on the site but I feel it was too much. I set up my profile after viewing the Google video about the access they have to all of the data. They say they won’t sell the data but there isn’t anything prohibiting them from doing so. That made me even more cautious with Facebook. Very few people in my demographic have profiles on Facebook or MySpace. I find it a little hard to relate to the value to these sites. In the Pew reading, 91% of the online networking users use the site to keep in contact with friends they see frequently and 82% use the site to stay in contact with friends the rarely see in person. If they see a friend in the hallway, do they talk to them or do they rush to their laptop to converse in cyberspace.

“The Master Plan about the power of Google? describes a situation kind of like big brother. Google scans all emails for keywords to build profiles for their users. They claim their goal is “don’t be evil? but who knows if the almighty dollar can change their mind. Companies are always data mining for information on the next trends or product usage. When Google taps into the key words in our emails, they can tailor advertising to fit our perceived lifestyle. This isn’t that far from zip code sorting for certain advertisers based on location and income. I am sure the mailings in certain neighborhoods in Edina are different from certain neighborhoods in Hopkins. There is a lot of money tied up in direct mail and address delivered advertising. Google has taken it to the next step. Not only can they project your income based on your profile, they can also provide competing advertisers with your IP address.

Cub Foods and SuperValu tried to do this with your receipt after your checkout at the store. The cash register is able to look at the scanned products from your cart and offer coupons from the competitor’s products for your next visit to the store. These coupons are printed on the back of the receipt.

Is there going to be a privacy backlash soon? With all of the information floating around it is only a matter of time that there is a major crash of all of the data. After that, nobody will be willing to give out any information. What will everyone do when they can't get their MySpace fix and they have to meet friends in person?

got FACEBOOK?

Just like every other social network, FaceBook brings up questions of privacy and it really depends on the users on how much they are willing to give out. I’ve had FaceBook for a few years now but probably logged on four times a year. It has a different layout than a few other networks that allow you to be creative and design your own layouts, etc. whereas FaceBook contains information on class schedules, who’s become your new friend, where you will be, what you will be doing, etc. That, I think is a little over the limit when speaking of privacy because it could potentially put you in danger for identity theft, stalkers, harassment, etc. It’s a scary thought when others can see your every move.

Although it can be dangerous, I think Facebook is so popular because it is a great way of keeping in touch and finding friends. Like mentioned, “It offers you an opportunity to interact with an extraordinarily expansive universe of new people. You can sculpt your on-line identity and learn more about how the Internet and its various programs work to create new relationships and communities. For the entrepreneurially minded, it might be an introduction into business as you think of how to "market" yourself.? (Cornell, Thoughts) People are so intrigued with this method of communicating that they don’t further look into the privacy issues. I, myself am guilty of this too.

Facebook gives you the option to choose your type of privacy much like other online communities and I think that is respectable. They follow two core principles; having control over your personal information and having access to the information others want to share. I enjoy using a few online communities which I prefer to keep private and allow friends only. It depends on individuals of the extent they are willing to share “and so it is important to remember that Facebook is malleable and creates as many obligations as it does opportunities for expression.? (Cornell, Thoughts).

I agree that “with freedom comes responsibility.? (Cornell, Thoughts) Facebook was used as an example of this and Cornell University valuing the idea that you are a mature adult who can make your own decisions. I think this is also respectable and we do have to remember that the internet is an open space for anyone to freely speak and view others posting.

Google and Privacy

I was really surprised when I read and saw the video on Google. I think that it's a great search engine, but there's definitely something sketchy about it. I don't think that they need to mess around with having people's genetic information displayed for everyone to see online. I'm not sure what the motive for that could be. Why would they want people's genetic information displayed online? What would be the advantage for that? I also think that the whole issue of having people's genetic codes online is something that is not aided by the government, but I think that the government will definitely stick their nose in it if it really happens.

The sheer size of the company is also a little bit worrisome because if they end up completely dominating the internet, that could definitely raise some issues. As far as the issue of gmail goes, I'm not really comfortable with them storing people's personal information. The whole thing just creeps me out. I think that gmail is probably somehow collaborating with the CIA in making sure that there aren't any terrorist threats or plans being exchanged with people.

I'm curious to know how the people that put together the anti-google website got all of that information. Who exactly are they? Did they get their info from current or former Google computer workers?

A matter of privacy

I haven't really had to deal with any privacy issues with Facebook. I take into account that whenever there's a picture or comment that I add to my wall or other people's walls, that it will be displayed for everyone to see. Because of that, I don't put things on there that would illicit problems. I know that I am accountable for the things that I put on there and I also know that when I enter the job field that I will either privatize my profile or I will completely get rid of it. I don't think that the school needs to concern themselves with my Facebook pages. I have, however, been put off by the News Feed feature that has recently been added to Facebook. I do see that as an issue of privacy, but more so just as a general concept. Once again, I'm not worried about what information about me gets put on News Feed because I try to stay away from things that would cast me into a bad light. I personally just don't like the idea of having other people see what I have posted on other people's walls and who I've added as a friend and who I didn't. I don't think that it's anyone's business and I don't think that other people really care, but like I've stated before it's more about the general concept that makes me uneasy. However, I think that it was great that 700,000 protesters brought up such a fuss about it because online networking companies cannot just overstep other people's privacy without consulting them.


I think that Corness University is doing the right thing in not monitoring the content of Facebook because then people would need to be accountable for the things that they say and learn to deal with the consequences of their posting and pictures. I don't think that it's necessarily the University's job in monitoring "adults" comments. I think that there should be a disclaimer or some sort of notification for students that if they see some sort of illegal behavior in pictures or postings that could cause harm to the person or others that they could call a contact number to report it.

February 19, 2007

Talk about Paranoia

It doesn't surprise me that a group of 700,000 angry people planned to protest Facebook's new feature, News Feeds which " shows an aggregation of everything members do on the site, such as added and deleted friends, a change in relationship status, a new favorite song, a new interest." (Wired News, Lessons). I would probably be part of that group too.

What I do wonder is who the heck is employed at Facebook- and if they were drunk, tired, and/or apathetic when making such a massive decision. It's hard to believe that a group of professionals would think that releasing information like 'deleted friends' and 'newly single' would be welcomed in such a close knit social community. It's like marching little Billy up to the town's hall and humilating him in front of his whole community with the news of his failed relationship. I can only speak for myself, but at my age (30), I wouldn't think the announcement "Julie's single!" is anything to celebrate. Most would interpret that as "Julie's single AGAIN! Please help out this poor old maid."

But, I do believe both parties (the creators and the online users) are casualties of online social networks. Conflict is going to happen no matter where we go or in what ways we communicate.
Facebook's debaucle was necessary. It builds awareness on issues like privacy and control.
While reading both articles on the Uof M and Cornell's webpage, I was sorely reminded of the lack of privacy we have when logging on to the internet. I forgot about caching, "Caching, in effect, means that if you post something on Facebook, let's say for a day or two, just to be funny or to make a point, even if you take it down or change it, it remains accessible to the rest of the world on the Internet anyway" (Cornell, Thoughts). This frightens me because I often don't think about what I write, and sometimes edit it later. And I rarely think about who else could be monitoring my profile. Cornell's article gives an excellent example of this, "trying to get a deal on car insurance? Who knows, maybe that little Geico went to Cornell! Do you really want him seeing a photograph of you bombed out of your mind?" (Cornell, Thoughts). I am a business consultant and would not like future clients to view or read about what I did last weekend. Not only does it challenge my credibility, but it's incredibly embarassing as well.

In conclusion, the articles this week really resonated with me. I will check myself before posting any more crass comments for which I could be liable for, or incriminating photos with comments like "medicinal purpose". Privacy affects everyone, therefore I would assume wanting some control over our personal lives is universal. Facebook, despite its last misstep, seems to be a sound website that respects this universal desire successfully.

Facebook - My Skeletal Profile

I have never been a member of Facebook until now. Actually, I was pretty stringent with the information I entered. It felt easy to maneuver around Facebook and check out the options available. I felt like I’ve been to this site already. Could it be all the students with laptops that sit in front of me during lecture classes warmed me up to it?. A small percentage appears to take notes and the remaining are on Facebook or some other messaging site. So, this probably is the case. The first thing I did was check out the privacy and account section. This week’s articles confirmed my paranoia on having personal information on the net (albeit they are common sense). In the PEW article, it states that Facebook encourages users to “register using their real name to be identified with offline identity.? But Bruce Schneier wrote in his article, “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.? Apparently my personal policy that I have instituted is “scarcity? when it comes to the net. I’ve tried to drill this into my teenage kids as well. They do have the advantage of knowing the repercussions of posting personal data all in the name of fun. Those who were having a fun a few years ago did not foresee the problems they imposed on themselves and how powerful the Internet would become in every aspect of their lives. Who would have thought a few years ago that employers would be googling prospective employees on the Internet?

I tried to search for some friends on Facebook. Yes, I struck out on just about everyone. I figured it must be my age group. Then I thought I would look for some acquaintances I’ve met at UMN - still no one. Hmmm…so I resorted to my friends’ kids and my nieces/nephews. I did find a couple of people. Did I message or “poke? them. Nope, I decided to just lay low. That privacy thing was still in the back of my mind. Apparently my trust in Facebook isn’t there. It feels like I should have control but I know I really don’t. Schneier ends with “But we all need to remember that much of that control is illusory.? I agree.

I found the statistics in the PEW article interesting but not all that surprising. If I were a teenager growing up with this technology available, it would be great. I was familiar with MySpace but had not heard of Xanga. I think teens have always been social, especially teenaged girls. Regardless of the method of communication, MySpace, phones, or even letters, teens need to (and always have) socialize more. It’s one of the first steps of growing up and becoming independent (their own person). I remember my grandmother always wrote letters and said she had numerous pen pals in her teenaged years. My mother was always on the phone as a teenager (as I was too) – letters were old fashioned. My daughter, well she has multiple options from the phone (house phone or cell phone?), MySpace, IM, texting, and the list goes on.

Only at the U

The University of Minnesota cracks me up. I love my college, and will continue to do so when it is my alma mater, but really, when you're bad your bad. Here are some examples (in my opinion):
Signing Football Coach Glen Mason to a new medium-length contract, then firing him one year later
Pretending that MyU is basically on similar ground as Facebook and MySpace
Moving the football team to the Metrodome in the first place

Okay, you get it, I'm a football fan. But before getting to our real assignment, I would like to discuss why our great university thinks MyU is such a revolutionary tool (just hang on, it blends with it eventually). I was in one of my classes last fall, and the professor was talking about a meeting he went to over the weekend that dealt with the university's technology. He said, while he had never heard of it, that this MyU thing was really great, and all the students love it, according to the administrators in charge of the meeting he was at. So he asked the class, "So you guys really like this, like outside of class?" The class responded with a "No?", as in, what are you thinking, all in unison. Everyone laughed, and then he asked, why don't you like it. There were many reasons, but summarized they are:
First, it should just be called My Tools, you should be able to access it just like web registration; one click and login, and select your class, and you have everything in front of you. This is very similar to Facebook's rioting dilemma, in that the U just forces everything on top of you. I am one of the few people that use UMCal, so I wouldn't mind that on my page. But a whole page of unwanted news, portfolios, lists, and other options stands in the way between you and your class. These are the same options we get a million emails about per week about, and if we really wanted we would have signed up or attended to it by now.
Second, I think I understand that Vista is a copywritten term, so (unless you buy it out) you cannot really call it your own and embed it into your current format. So why not just give the students what they want, a quick link to vista, and not put all the crap inbetween. Now when I log into FastWeb (a scholarship search engine) I understand why they try to get you to fill in ads for the Army or the University of Phoenix, they are trying to make money. But the U seems to have no money making schemes that I know of on the initial MyU portal page, so why? That is the question I would like answered.
We are smart enough to get through MyU portal, but unless my class survey sample of 150 is wrong, I think this is a great example of why people need options. Oh, the reason I started this whole rant is because in the middle of the University's Living in Online Communities: A User's Guide they state

The University has its own online community too, called MyU. All students, staff and faculty have an account that is accessed by entering their own unique log-in. If you have not accessed your account yet, visit www.umn.edu/initiate. This will give you access to e-mail, discussion boards, an online calendar, and more. Just sign in at myu.umn.edu, and find out!

Only at the U. Wow, I'm glad they put that enticing exclamation point at the end, I'm ready to find out!

Here is a story that goes out to anyone who's ever lost a friend (because you didn't know what their complete name was) and won them back again:
I met a friend at a camp in middle school, only remembering his first name, because his first name is so unique. I learned about Facebook in 11th grade doing college visits. I went to Macalester and it was my friends homepage. He explained it was only for college kids, but while I was there, we spent time looking at pictures of our friends (we went to the same high school) who I had not seen since school started. About a week after I was admitted to the U of M, I logged on, and within a week was able to see a lot of my friends' adventures over the past 3/4 of a year. As time went on, Facebook allowed you to be less exact when searching for people. First you had to know their name and school, then I think you could search anyone if you got their exact name, then Facebook put in some sort of google search for names, and you get renditions of peoples names with the relevancy to your original query. Well, a month ago I put in my friend's name from middle school, and poof, there he was, one of about 15 matches. Over the past four weeks we have exchanged emails and caught up on each other, planning to meet again when we have enough money (he lives in California now).
As you can probably tell, I like Facebook. I would say while keeping in contact with my close friends, if you check Facebook every day (sad, I know) you will be able to see all your friends' names once a year via the birthday announcements. I do not necessarily wish everyone that shows up a happy birthday, but I can at least remember some people I have not talked to in a while.
I was part of the Facebook Riots (Schneier), and was at one point a proud member of the group, "I will quit Facebook the day my mom joins". Luckily for me, I don't think that day will come, but she is definitely able to. When Facebook expanded to include employers, I think the fun died down. Before, it was the equivalent of going to a safe party that your parents would never want you to attend. Now, its like the ladies in the lunchroom in elementary school making sure that you clean your plate and keep the noise level down, or you cannot go outside. We all understood that anyone could have a umn.edu X500 sign-in (Guests could/can login for a temporary amount of time to the U of M), but just assumed everyone who would try that hard probably could find out another way as well.
Personally, I am off the NewsFeed, I just get worried about the day that Facebook tells me, "That girl that used to like you in middle school was staring at the picture of you on the beach for 25 minutes at 10:23 am". I do not think that is a message any Facebooker wants to receive. I limit most of my other content as to I would want it limited to me. That is, I search Facebook profiles the most when I want to find out more about people that I could potentially befriend, in real life that is. So I like to use Facebooks to look for any red flags, much as employers use behavioral interviews. For this reason, I open up my profile (and thus my life) to all people at the University of Minnesota. While I understand the University is a large network which makes a lot of people able to see me, that also means to me that there is a smaller chance of someone coming across my profile randomly.
As far as schools are concerned, I prefer Cornell's "Do what you want, but be careful" attitude to our "Be very careful, but do it if you think it is the best decision for your life". College is great time for people to find themselves and make mistakes. If the U paid Facebook enough to not allow any umn.edu addresses, our students would be behind in the future because Facebook seems so big that it will our adapt the communication styles of our future managers and coworkers.
While I agree with Schneier that Facebook etc. has full power of my information, they all know that it will take one lawsuit where someone who "clicked the privacy box" had their data accessed inadvertently by a third party, and the company could go down. Companies are still run by people, and I think that people running social networking sites want a balance between happy people, happy lawyers, and happy profits. So if things like Google or Facebook are ever bought in the way, like how General Electric and Disney, among others, basically own everything, I think then we will see profit pushed much faster than happiness.
Now that you're done reading this, you can go back to MyU and have tons of fun posting with 3 other people on the message boards with the rest of the undergraduate community!

FACEBOOK - Waste of time or great social networking device?

Facebook is a wildly popular social networking website in which just emerged towards the beginning of my college career. I remember Freshman year when it did not exist and I actually had to talk to people face to face. Disregarding my sarcasm, I actually think facebook is a great way to keep in touch with friends. I've always had great experiences with it and much prefer it over other websites like Myspace (see previous posting). Some features that I particularly enjoy about Facebook are the pictures that you can upload, the class/school listings, groups (of which 99% are just for fun), and the friends. While at the same time many of these features can possibly be seen as bad things or private information.

I remember talking a bit about this in a few of my classes regarding privacy. People seemed to be concerned about whether the information or pictures you put on your profile might become visible to others that you may not wish it to be. The subject of whether or not a facebook profile should be used in a hiring process came into play. I am not entirely sold on this issue of if it should be used or not but regardless I think it is the user's discretion which should be at fault in the end. You must remember that everything you put on your profile is a choice that you make and you have the final say in the matter. Anything you put on your profile about yourself is essentially a transfer of your personal data to another person. Whether or not Facebook has the rights to do what they want with that data is debatable, but if you are going to worry about it, don't put it there. In other words, "facebook members are just fooling themselves if they think they can control information they give to third parties" (Schneier 1). Essentially all that is saying is that you should be aware that you don't know what could happen to the things you put online. Once you put it online, you have made your data availible to everyone and you should be aware of this.This is because "if you post something on Facebook, lets say for a day or two, just to be funny or to make a point, even if you take it down or change it, it remains accessible to the rest of the world on the Internet anyway" (Mitrano 1).

More on the privacy issue. I do believe that Facebook does give you plenty of options in regards to your privacy if it were something of an issue (besides just not posting it). By these factors I think that Facebook shouldn't have very much liability in regards to what you post or your data. To quote the Cornell website again as it has a great deal of my beliefs that you are liable for what you post and not Facebook, "On Facebook, you have no expectation of privacy" (Mitrano 1).

In regards to schools needing to have a stance on guidelines I don't think this should be an issue. Schools do not have guidlines for people's personal webpages or blogs so why should they with facebook? Essentially Facebook is just another form of communication that could be detailed as free speech. And as a school of thought and human developement, the U of MN (or any other school) should follow along as in the Cornell policy of keeping free speech "a part of our values as an important center for research, teaching and outreach internationally" (Mitrano 1).

Sidenote: I find it hilarious how on facebook you can join groups that are "virtual" mobs or riots. You can join a group and join their "virtual" cause.