“Big Brother” has moved from reality TV to the Web, as watching eyes now keep tabs on every keystroke you make. While some question how far the Patriot Act goes, Facebook.com may have seemed just as intrusive when it introduced its News Feed feature last year.
Without notice, students logged on to find out that their personal information was available for anyone to see. The entire network is privy to who is friends with whom, who has joined various groups and who is in a relationship. It’s like high school all over again: Britney & K-Fed break up during fifth period and by sixth, you’re getting the CliffsNotes version from the lunch lady.
“The News Feed personally doesn’t bother me because people have the option to show or hide info about them. If they don’t take advantage of that, then it’s their own fault,” said education major Alycia Young.
After outcries from users who were worried that the popular networking Web site had gone too far with its new feature, Facebook attempted to repair its relationship with users by issuing an apology and giving users the option to shield privacy through settings.
Users seemed generally annoyed, but after a little adjusting, many began to accept and utilize the News Feed features. Despite the uproar over invasion, only a select few are keeping a low profile. Why are so many opening themselves to virtual strangers who didn’t rub shoulders with them in the elevator line in Anderson Hall?
“It feels like a novelty. It feels like a new way you can get your own 15 minutes,” said sociology professor Dustin Kidd.Kidd admitted to having a Myspace.com page.
It’s gotten more exposure than Donald Trump versus Rosie O’Donnell.
Facebook is the new trailblazing medium to release inhibitions, but not everyone is onboard.
Worries of unprotected privacy go further than Temple, but Rachel Denham, a sophomore history major at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., is more concerned with progressive and intricate changes made by Facebook since its establishment.
“My concern is less about an invasion of privacy and more about the site trying to change to conform to the growing popularity in networking Web sites,” Denham said.
Denham was initially drawn to the site, which traffics more than 13 million users, as a means of keeping up with her classmates. However, now it seems as if Facebook is playing follow-the-leader with MySpace.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m intruding on what other people are doing and sometimes the site is following every change we make,” she said. “While they say that you can hide what you do, the process is by deleting it one-by-one, sometimes I’ve noticed that it doesn’t work and the changes still show up,” she continued. “You don’t know what Facebook is saying about you unless you look on your friend’s News Feed.”
ComScore.com cites Facebook as the seventh-most trafficked site on the Web. It also has the honor of being the No. 1 photo-sharing URL. “Remember, perhaps many have grown up with Internet and World Wide Web as a source of information, contact and comfort,” said sociology lecturer Anthony Kouzis. “In retrospect, it shouldn’t appear particularly newsworthy.”
However, those who have logged onto the site since the beginning have sounded off about all the new changes. Ann Marie Gleeson, a junior nursing major, is one of many who still takes concern with the News Feed despite any barriers put into place to safeguard privacy. “I think it’s a little much. It seems kind of stalkerish,” she said.
Students have posted their opinions of Facebook violating their privacy, but not everyone is crying a river.
Paolo DeVito, a 2006 graduate, authored the Jan. 8 note “Unbelieveable … I hate the News Feed.” The statement faults all the complaints against Facebook’s latest novelty. DeVito does not understand why users are griping about being monitored.
“What I do on Facebook, is what I do on Facebook. I never bring up Facebook in real life conversation,” DeVito wrote. “It’s supposed to be fun to post [messages] and to help keep in touch with friends.”
Stephanie Guerilus can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.