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Facebook Stalking: Is It Truly an Issue?

A student commentary on the validity behind "Facebook Stalking."

In the post-Steve Jobs, Tim Berners-Lee, Tom Anderson, Mark Zuckerberg, and some other 2 million innovators (besides Bill Gates), “our generation probably has no clue about” era, we have seen radical changes in technology.

We are now able to communicate with long-lost relatives in Taipei, rendezvous with a friend semi-consensually (with the help of Google Maps and a ring of the doorbell), and possibly assume the identity of a mega-pop-paparazzi-diva-icon-star and live out 20 hours of Twitter stardom before getting locked up in jail. What a liberating world we live in.

However, like most things in life, all perks have their respective downfalls. Since a recent survey at my school, showed that the technical innovation students are most grateful for is “Facebook,” that is the issue I will deal with (as the Spanish say) “ahora."

A quick glance on Facebook’s statistics page, easily accessed by typing in “Facebook Statistics” on Google, shows that more than 800 million people use Facebook “actively.” In case you didn’t know, Merriam-Webster primarily defines the word actively as, “characterized by action rather than by contemplation or speculation.” This is an outstanding revelation. What Facebook has managed to do is build up the muscle memory of 800 million humans so that they would compulsively, without contemplation or speculation, access Facebook. That, to whomever it may concern, is pure genius.

An additional 400 million access the website daily, which, on a side note, accounts for the $3 million it makes every day.

On the surface, it sounds like the idealized dream that the thousands (possibly millions?) of jaded college students drool about: a college dropout makes it big in business. It seems all too probable; any person can list 10 college-dropouts that are now multi-millionaires off the top of their head. In case you’re struggling with that, I think that proves why 99 percent of the near 40 percent of Americans that drop out of school should stay in school. However, it’s not always “Sunny in Philadelphia,” or wherever the Facebook headquarters are located (apparently in 27 different areas: 16 of them international).

The biggest complaint directed toward Facebook is how it allows a prospective individual to subtlely track another individual’s status, whereabouts, and personal information. In the urban context (Urbandictionary.com) this is referred to as, “Facebook stalking.”

My dear friend Borna believes that this is simply an expected result when a social networking site like Facebook “plays a large part in the problematic lives of many teens.” His opinion is shared. Keo Castro-Bertlemann, a fellow ANHS student, says that, “Facebook has opened a whole new window of ways to invade a person’s privacy.”

I decided to investigate the credibility behind this phenomenon by doing it the only way I knew how: trying it myself. No, I didn’t; I couldn’t bring myself to. But I pulled up some quick facts that may interest the curious ear.

  • 16.5 percent of all cyber-stalking victims were reportedly harassed via Facebook first (WHOA). No, sorry, I am not adding my own textual sound effects – WHOA stands for Working to Halt Online Abuse. This nearly triples the 6.25 percent of victims who were initially stalked via telephone, a more user-selective form of communication.
  • A Google search of Facebook stalking produces 3,360,000 links – probably has nothing to do with the prevalence of Facebook stalking than it does Google’s impressive ability to bring up vaguely related elements like Panopticism.
  • Apparently the issue has become so prevalent that Facebook has released several “Facebook Stalker” apps. Don’t ask me why, but “Breakup Notifier” is also included in the bundle.

Obviously, it is difficult to gather extensive information on this topic. WHOA could only manage to gather information about 349 cyber-stalking victims, a small fraction when compared to the masses that currently own “Facebook” pages. The only thing left to do is offer my commentary on whether or not Facebook stalking is truly an issue.

Simply put, “Haters gon’ hate.” The reason why social networking sites like Facebook have become so popular and successful is because people have grown attached to them. It seems as if they are ashamed to express their endearment, and try to conceal it by classifying themselves as moderate users, or in more extreme cases, abstainers. Honestly, it’s up to no one to judge who you are based on what you choose to look at, whether it be someone’s Facebook page or Hulu re-runs of Blues Clues. If so, we should install Internet judges that strike their gavel whenever someone watches illicit cinematography or illegally streams live sports games.

We all have a choice to make a Facebook page or not, just like we have the choice to surround ourselves with good people. Obviously sometimes things may turn for the worse, but being responsible and cognizant of the setting you place yourself in will most definitely keep you out of harm’s way.

Bottom-line, Facebook is a wonderful tool that has digitally linked distant worlds together. Use it at your own discretion and, for Pete’s sake, treat it with respect. 

Laura Knighten November 03, 2011 at 05:31 PM
"We all have a choice to make a Facebook page or not, just like we have the choice to surround ourselves with good people. Obviously sometimes things may turn for the worse, but being responsible and cognizant of the setting you place yourself in will most definitely keep you out of harm’s way." ... Bravo! Well done William!
Daniel Roche March 28, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Hi, Where did you get your statistics? I'm doing an essay on this topic and need to reference them.

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