The Lectern: Facebook warning for grown-ups
At this point, many kids using Facebook, the social-networking site of choice of the Millenial generation, have been warned about problems that can occur when employers, not to speak of political opponents twenty years from now, access drunken (or otherwise) photos on Facebook sites, or inappropriate posts kids have entered.
I got on Facebook a few months ago. Most of my Facebook friends are former students, but recently there has been a spike of government and industry folks signing up. A Facebook group for government contracting officers, set up just a few weeks ago, is already pushing 30 members.
I recently had an experience suggesting that grownups need to be warned about Facebook as well.
Just after I got on Facebook, I was "friended" by a journalist whom I did not know personally and who has over the years written a number of POGO-esque stories on government contracting. I ignored the request, since the person was not a friend of mine. A few days ago, the same person renewed the request; more accustomed to Facebook, and with a lot more Facebook friends now than then, this time I accepted the request without giving it too much thought.
Later that night I received an e-mail message from my daughter saying she had been friended by this person and asking if I knew him. I e-mailed her back saying that this was really creepy and that she definitely shouldn't accept the request.
Clearly my new Facebook "friend" had looked through my friend list, trolling for dirt, and had seen my daughter's name (those familiar with the Facebook world will know that it is a sign of a good parent-child relationship that one's child allows one to become their Facebook friend). What further dirt patrol this journalist had in mind in friending my daughter, I can only guess.
I wrote the journalist about this, and he responded that he had "inadvertently" friended my daughter after looking through my Facebook friend list -- quite a feat, since friending somebody requires several mouse clicks.
I will not reveal the journalist's name, having more respect for his privacy than he clearly has for mine and my daughter's.
Posted by Steve Kelman on Apr 24, 2008 at 12:09 PM