Wednesday, October 10, 2007

This is why I feel creeped by MySpace and Facebook

With all due respect to both MySpace and Facebook, I am a bit creeped out by these news. One of the best friends (Keira-Anne) of a local Vancouver blogger (Rebecca) found a MySpace created by someone who used her (Keira-Anne's) photos to pose as her, in a different country (USA) and city (Austin, TX). Both Rebecca and Keira-Anne have discussed the issue at length, so I will suggest that you mosey over to their blogs (here and here) to read the whole story.

I am sorry that this happened to Keira-Anne, and I think that this is incredibly creepy! But this is perhaps one of the many reasons why I like staying away from MySpace and Facebook (at least in my real life!). That's why people call it sometimes 'Facebook-stalking"!

I think that there is value to social networking sites. There is so much value that there are people like Fred Stutzman and danah boyd studying them (these are just two of the main students of the MySpace/Facebook sites, but I am sure other people out there are researching these topics).

The risk that I think we face with this type of SNS is that our privacy is undermined. Heck, even blogging can be non-private. I was just chatting with a friend a few days ago about the fact that anybody who wanted to find out who I am could easily do so with a few smart Google search strategies.

Some bloggers have managed to transform their blogging activities into profitable ventures. Some others use their blog as a platform to help them network with potential clientes. More and more, academics are writing blogs and finding ways to reach out to different audiences. The truth is that the Internet can be a very valuable resource. But it can also be a very creepy place.

I have thought about this over and over, and that's why I sometimes have devoted countless hours to read and think about SNS. But coming across these news that local blogger Keira-Anne's identity had been supplanted (even if only online, and probably spurred out of some bizarre adoration), I am thoroughly creeped out.

Now, will this event stop me from blogging or even - heaven forbid - cave in finally and create my online profile on these sites? Hardly. I think that there is value to blogging, there is value to Facebook and MySpace and there is value to using these tools to reach out to broader audiences. Now, if my blog could just get a few thousand hits! (I am saying this tongue-in-cheek, as I recently read an entry by Darren Barefoot where he was sort of -jokingly- complaining that only 760 readers had been redirected from the NY Times site) - as I told Darren in my comment, I am lucky if I get 30 readers a day, let alone 760! -- although to be quite honest, I am sure danah boyd gets thousands of them. Perhaps it's time to Digg or de.licious my entries, hehehe ;)

No comments: