Intro to New Media Studies, Spring 2008

What Happens in College…Stays on Facebook

May 1st, 2008 by · No Comments

Final Project Summary

As a senior who is about to enter the “adult” world of jobs and interviews, I have been wondering lately whether my facebook page will become a liability. One day my mom called to tell me she’d read an article about a young man being fired from his new job because of scandalous content on his Facebook page. I responded that I didn’t have anything very objectionable postetd, and that even if I did, my “privacy settings” were adjusted to “friends only.” Wasn’t my information safe? I decided to use this final project as an opportunity to study the nitty gritty details of how students’ information is really being used.

I found an article from The New Media Reader that, though dense, seemed most applicable to the topic of Facebook’s collection and dissemination of users’ data. On page 740, I read Philip E. Agre “Surveillance and Capture: Two Models of Privacy.” Agre predicted that advances in technology would help the government dig up information on you, and spread it around. He contrasted this new “capture” model with the old “surveillance model,” explaining, “Whereas the surveillance model originates in the classically political sphere of state action, the capture model has deep roots in the practical application of computer systems (Agre 744).” Facebook data storage resembles the capture model.
In order to share my disturbing findings with others, I created an amalgamation blog at It consolidates feeds from various searches regarding “Facebook and privacy concerns,” etc. I initially showed a link to a Facebook watchdog video by an anonymous YouTube user, but after realizing that my classmates had created such a video for their final presentation, I think I will plug their video by putting a link on my amalgamation page.
Figuring out how to find “RSS feeds” and arrange them on one page was surprisingly difficult for me, since I had never worked with them before. Overall, I’m pretty happy with the page, and I hope a lot of people will see it. The hardest pill to swallow, though, was not the act of researching or of creating a page, but coming to the realizaiton that I will eventually have to myself undergo the (deliberately?) convoluted process of deleting my data myself.

Original post by Gwen

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