23 July 2007

Face the music

Do you have trouble remembering the names of your friends? Then what you need is an entry on facebook.com. Facebook describes itself as "a social utility" that "connects you with the people around you", creating the image of a metaphorical water company, pumping gallons of networked greetings across the country. This seems to be another way of saying it is the new Friends Reunited.

Either way, it has attracted a remarkable amount of attention in recent weeks, especially when its systems start to leak metaphorical raw sewerage over the carpets. Recently a group of Facebook users got together to form a social forum on the site with the sole aim of saying rude things about a librarian at the university that they all attended.

But it's not all bullying - there's also artless boasting about illicit behaviour. Oxford University used photographs taken from Facebook profiles to discipline some students it accused of anti-social behaviour. It seems the witless participants recorded their unruly behaviour and posted it onto a "secure" area of their site profiles, only to be caught out when University authorities posed as students to access the images. Clearly destined for careers in MI6, the students professed astonishment at the university's "invasion" of their privacy.

I'm not sure which is more stupid - posting the evidence or complaining about being busted. It certainly shows a frightening degree of naivety about the online world, as though the Internet is somehow not real and anything you do or say on the web doesn't count.

Another way of looking at this is as part of a long-established tradition - the egomaniac criminal who is undone because he can't resist boasting about his deeds. Maybe in the future we won't need bobbies on the beat, but have them treading the information superhighway instead. The police will become like the rest of us office drones - instead of doing any original work, they'll end up Googling for results instead.

1 comment:

PW said...

I'd always worked on the basis that everything on the internet was pretend, Mike. But then I've always worked on the basis that most things in the real world are pretend too.