Monday, September 25, 2006

Assignment 5.1: Facebook is growing and so is Deception

Facebook has always had its niche from other social networks by only allowing students to create accounts. It has also restricted users with the uniform look and limited profile. However, before we get into the details of the anatomy and where deception can be found, recall the users. We know from DePaulo that college students lie about 2 times per day. Does this mean they are more likely to lie on their facebook accounts? I don’t believe so. Since users know who is looking at their account, there is less motivation to lie and protect their identity. Within the past year, facebook users have been able to join larger networks and no longer know exactly who is viewing their profile. Users can protect their profiles, but what is security? I believe users are more likely to protect themselves and deceive on their profiles due to this expansion.

Although users can deceive on most, if not all categories except email address, I will focus on a few elements with the highest presumed deception. I believe that the highest deception is found in photos. With the ability to tag, identify someone in a picture, many users un-tag themselves from pictures they do not like or do not associated with. Another feature that may contain an interesting type of deception is the friends section. Although nobody defines what a friend is, I would bet that there are many “friends” on facebook that do not pass the typical definition of the word. However, this cannot be considered deception because users know there is no definition and therefore cannot be subject to deception. I also believe there is a lot of deception about a user’s ‘relationship status’ and what they are ‘looking for’. This conforms with O’Sullivan’s impression management model. Most users are unlikely to say they are looking for ‘whatever I can get,’ even if that is their intention.

I had my friend Yackaberg evaluate his profile. I chose him because his profile picture is very revealing. As I would assume, most of his values were 4s and 5s. This aligns with Catalina’s findings on self-reporting accuracy. However, I did find 3s in ‘friends’ and ‘status/looking for.’ The number of pictures was reported at a 4. This does not surprise me because the subject was a male. I would expect a higher level of photo deception in females’ profiles.

One feature that I did not take into account is the mini-feed. This is a new feature that tells you everything that the user has recently done. He rated it a 1 because he deletes every entry. This is deceptive because it can make a viewer believe as though he doesn’t change his account. The min-feed feature upset a lot of users and doesn’t surprise me that is it the subject to deception. I would hypothesize that newly added features and are rejected by the members will be subject to more deception than those which have proven acceptable.


At 10:15 PM, Blogger Amanda Pearsall said...

Great job analzying the anatomy of facebook. I completely agree that with the expansion of the facebook network, there may be a greater motivation to hide personal information. I would say that this is a good sort of deception because in the society we live in it's important to be wary of your personal information and who has a privilege to it. When I joined facebook freshman year high school students didn't have access. However, today even high school students are able to join the network and who knows, maybe they are faking what school they may be attending in the fall. This is interesting because as the membership rises, are we considering that deception may be becoming more prevalent? Is it easier to lie when more people are watching? It might be because we will acquire more "friends" that truly don't know our true self. In the same respect, I think there has been a shift from facebook being a message board between close friends from home to more of a place where college students can meet random people at their university that they may never meet but just talk to online. These acquaintances will never be able to validate or reject how you presented yourself online. Also I wonder if we were to compare males and females, strictly on facebook, if the results would be similar to Whitty's findings that females lie more to protect themselves. I also think it is important to recognize the warranting effect in respect to the growing popularity of facebook. When facebook was smaller, and not as popular, the network was tighter and many individuals didn't have as many acquaintances labeled "friends." The friends you had, who could view your profile, were more apt to continuously compare your information to your habitual behaviors. There was a great incentive not to lie, in order to avoid future embarassment.
I just can't believe that a goofy little site can be so applicable to our class discussions as well as become such an addiction for college students nationwide. Overall, great post!

At 11:11 AM, Blogger Brad Hill said...

Cam Dog, I think your opening point about how Facebook will become more prone to deception as more people have access to it is right on. In the past,viewing people’s Facebook profiles was something you generally did after you met a person. I think most people looked at profiles that belonged to someone they were already friends with or someone they had recently met. Furthermore, I think everyone using Facebook was aware of this behavior. As a result your claim that people would be less inclined to deceive is an accurate one. There is not as much need to conceal things from people you already know, especially in terms of what type of pictures you have posted, or the picture of yourself (they’ve already seen the real thing). However, as Facebook expands it may become the case, or people believe it will, that employers and those whom you have a professional relationship with will be viewing your profile. With this in mind, profiles may become far more concealed and barren—a result that may usher in more deceptive behavior.


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