Proper Facebook Etiquette

#241 Loathed to extremes. One profile of a Facebook killer.

Tuesday 9th March, 2010

In the light of the recent declaration of the Facebook Killer by the Media and comments on this site, I am taking this posts tone to one of ‘serious’ and purposefully reflexive.

In case you’ve missed it, Peter Chapman was arrested in October 2009 for the kidnap, rape and murder of seventeen years young Ashleigh Hall. He had Friended and groomed his victim via… Facebook. As an informed public we Know that to create a Profile on a social network site is to capture a part of yourself. Less considered is the extent to which the Profile may be bared to the world (wide web) and then captured by others.  As we have seen, increasingly such exposure comes with its own risks. Following Chapman’s abhorrent actions our rights to ‘privacy’ and ‘protection’ have become key issues again.

Quick to point blame, the Press finger has been firmly pointing at Facebook for some time now. This case is not the first of its kind and (sadly) it will not be the last.  So far, Facebook’s strategy of ownership of your data where – ANYTHING – that you upload, publish, tag, share, write, delete etc. on the site is, by rights, theirs has failed to ‘protect’ its users. I have spoken with many parents about their concerns for their family being on Facebook. One constant observation that keeps repeating is that, with ownership of your data, surely logic would follow, that it is Facebook’s responsibility to keep its users ‘safe’ and protect the wider public at large (us) by the tracking and surveillance of accounts etc.Well you would think so wouldn’t you?

Here, Facebook have a cunning get out of jail free clause: 1. they own your data; BUT 2. they do not own you. Which equates to it being Your responsibility to make sure that Your account is safe and any subsequent information treated accordingly.  And if you are parent, this translates into child safety being your buck, not Facebook’s.  In effect, if anything goes wrong it’s your fault, you have no right to data/information. Delete your rights. Delete safety. Delete trust. Delete your kids accounts?

We live, and increasingly for the younger generation who are growing up ‘on the web’ and with technology, in an information age.  When we upload, download, share, tag and tweet we are forever in the public arena. In the most spied country in the world, even ‘offline’ we are under surveillance with an estimated 4.2million CCTV cameras recording over 80% of our lives outside of our homes.

Whose responsibility is it then to safeguard us? To keep from harm other teenagers who, like young Ashleigh Hall, just want to connect to friends. From this perspective technology is a bittersweet pill. GREAT! for sustaining and cultivating connections. CRAP! for protecting personal rights or keeping us safe from harm. And at its absolute worse putting us potentially in the way of new social risks.  It is unrealistic to propose a social network lock down. Or to push parents to take their children’s Profiles off of social networks, this is likely to lead to arguments, and feelings of isolation from ‘what friends are doing’.  Especially when we consider that web profiles can reveal (and also hide) so much.  To withdraw would be a darkness falling on our personal freedoms and the loss of the flow and expression of social information. Many of those incidental connections that we enjoy simply would not be possible without the freedom to create Profiles, send requests, respond and grow with our networks.  In this way it’s a personal and public autobiography that we have control of. BUT with predators like Chapman there will always be a threat.

Since the case came to light, nearly every Media headline has made specific reference to Facebook. Twittown have published an interesting article, unveiling the ‘who’s to blame’; from Facebook, to parents, to Government and finally back to Us. In one article then we turn a full circle. From Facebook’s defence; in that they ‘own’ your information, but not your actions, to You. YOU. The buck stops here.

Another version of this article is also published on GirlyGeekdom. Worth a read!

One Response to “#241 Loathed to extremes. One profile of a Facebook killer.”

  1. kathryn says:

    Marian does facebook represent a drop in social values? How should we moderate control?

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