[Air-l] Facebook protests

Julian Hopkins julianh at help.edu.my
Sat Sep 9 00:04:04 PDT 2006

Hello all and thanks for the interesting discussion. I'm a bit late coming
into this but I'm submitting these remarks.

[I don’t know what ‘Facebook’ is, but I assume it is something like
Friendster, etc. Apologies for any errors caused by ignorance]

I would agree with Michael & Kevin’s approach, it is the change in
situation/process which has made the users realise their lack of privacy.

Mark says: “A student is not forced to join Facebook”. Yes this is true;
however, consider their lived daily practice – I assume that joining such a
network is part of establishing social networks for students. Thus it is
somewhat of a social necessity – to be able to participate in shared
practices and be part of what’s ‘happening’.

Gail says “The number of friends one has is a status symbol for some
students with Facebook accounts.”

Johnathan Sterne says: “People have long made mistakes in negotiating issues
of self-presentation in their lives, and social networking software simply
documents those mistakes.”

Ledbetter notes how ‘friends’ are undifferentiated.

Perhaps they approach it as an extension of their offline habits – i.e.
making friends. And everyone hates a gossip who immediately passes on to the
whole world details of what you get up to. 

I also get surprised at seeing blogs with phrases like “note that when
you're reading my blog, you're intruding into my private space” (actual
quote); or “…you cant keep an actual diary at home in case your mom finds
out that you've been taking drugs and have a boyfriend etc. It's much safer
online since most parents arent tech savvy.” (email to me from a blogger).

However, blogs are often explicitly aimed at attracting strangers (as a mass
media), but the Friendster-type website is promoted as a way to meet friends
– your online social club/bar/nightclub/neighbourhood park so to speak. In
those public spaces we choose who wish to interact with, which is what this
new service seems to be explicitly not doing.

Charles Ess’ points (“degrees of control”) relate to this: i.e. we like to
have the power to control who we interact with, and when. Andrea touches on
this too. Erikson does a better job than me explaining the intricacies of
information dissemination. Nancy, I think you are thinking down the same
lines as me.

Yes, the privacy is an illusion – but their online interaction is still
framed by offline contexts.

Julian Hopkins
Lecturer - ADP
HELP University College
+60 3 2095 8791 x2913

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