Who needs Facebook? Students fight back

Facebook: Students Fight Back!

YES, there is rain on the Facebook parade, despite Mark Zuckerberg & Company's best efforts today to create, cajole and control public and popular opinion via a splashy and flashy multi-media show from the heart of San Francisco pre-designed to crown Facebook the Web's star from here on in.

Fresh faced Zuckerberg belies the many not so wholesome goings on within the still impenetrable Facebook, regardless of the massive, and successful, Facebook PR coup.

For example, "Will the 2008 election be won on Facebook?" was the not so modest CNN headline last week declaring the not quite so "Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are fighting it out for the Democratic nomination on Facebook."

However, students, and student bodies, the purported soul of Zuckerberg's Facebook, are decrying what they deem to be a not so trusted "social utility" that is the Facebook reality in its unvarnished by PR speak experience.

The UCLA Daily Bruin campus newspaper reported earlier in the month:

While candidates and their supporters blanketed campus Monday in preparation for the undergraduate student government elections, handing out treats, fliers and platform information to students passing by, another very different campaign had already begun on Facebook.

Since Sunday, there have been a series of Facebook Flyers attacking slates for their platforms and past behavior on council – but much of the information is either misleading or inaccurate, and since all the negative Flyers are posted anonymously, there is no way for them to be regulated.

The difference between these Flyers and the animosity that has been present in past USAC elections is that these are posted anonymously.

“Previous campaigns have not been entirely positive, but the negativity was very much in the form of word-of-mouth on Bruin Walk or submissions to the Daily Bruin,” Kaisey said.

These Flyers have been more explicitly negative and false than negative information disseminated in previous campaigns, and Kaisey said she believes forums such as Facebook allow students to make these kinds of statements.

“I don’t think people would be out on Bruin Walk saying these things because they are false,” Kaisey said. “Facebook allows you to ... publish these false facts and no one can say anything or ask you to defend your arguments with facts because they don’t know who you are.”

“When all you are doing is posting negative campaign Flyers on Facebook, it turns the average student off from voting altogether,” she said.

Kaisey also said she has contacted Facebook because, in addition to being inaccurate, the Flyers violate copyright laws because they use the logo created by Bruins United.

Joel Keralis, Texas A&M Class of 2009 at his blog:

As some of you might have known, I recently took myself off of the popular social networking site facebook. This was, first and foremost, a move to free up some of the time that I was basically wasting on that site. Also, it was as a form of protest to a couple things relating to facebook.

First, I was frustrated by people who griped about "stalking problems" and would remove the vast majority of their information from the site, only to turn around and in their own words "stalk" other people (note: stalk is used in a benign way). I found this completely contrary to the idea of the digital social network that the site was built around. Maybe I'm the only one that thinks this way, but there just seems to be something wrong with logging into facebook every day to check the news feeds for relationship stories "just to avoid accidental awkward situations" but then have your personal settings in a way that would prohibit anything about your relationship actually showing up in the feeds.

Second, I am protesting the use of Facebook by law enforcement agencies, government agencies (see: CIA, FBI), Universities, scholarship committees, and employers to either evaluate potential new people or to check up on those that they are currently involved with. Not that I am involved with anything that would be particularly interesting to these groups, but the idea is way to invasive, and violates the sense of a personal space that a social networking site should have (and needs to have in order to be truly effective).

While I haven't had any problems with the various format changes that Facebook has gone through in recent months or even the opening of facebook to non-college users, I just don't want to stay in the current system. I was also curious as to whether or not I would have the willpower to completely leave it, as it has been a pretty big part of my life for the last couple years.

I have to say it was pretty hard to do for the first few days. Every time I logged on to a computer to check my email or somesuch mundane task, I found myself typing in the facebook URL even before I consciously thought about it. It was almost like trying to break an addiction. But I prevailed. I have been "facebook-free" for a couple weeks now, and doubt that I will pick it back up anytime soon. And more amazingly, I am still alive and socially active!

We'll see how long that lasts, but I would actually recommend other users trying to take a facebook break for a little while to see how it is in the "real" (non-digital) social world...


UPDATE: MySpace: 179 million times more open than Facebook and Why YouTube, MySpace are NOT worried