Feb 062010
 
 February 6, 2010  Online, Youth & Schools

Valerie Fortney writes:

… Just last week, Canada’s privacy commissioner asked Facebook to change a number of policies and practices to comply with the country’s private-sector privacy law, and explain better how it handles personal information with third-party developers that create applications, such as games and quizzes.

Such thoughts were on the mind of a group of University of Lethbridge students last week when they began a social experiment of their own with the site that now boasts more than 350 million members worldwide, 13 million of those Canadians.

“We wanted to see how easy it was to make a false Facebook account, and how other users would react to it,” says third-year U of L student Sarah Lajeunesse, spokeswoman for her five-member research team enrolled in the school’s faculty of management.

Their prey? About 30 of her fellow classmates, along with 20 others. “There were only a couple of people in our class that didn’t have a Facebook profile,” says Lajeunesse.

They created an imaginary female, attractive of course, then started firing off friendship requests to the classmates. Within two minutes, they had acceptances; within 24 hours, Mystery Girl had 25 new friends, some of whom were asking her out on dates and revealing their inner thoughts in online chat sessions.

The results were eye-opening and, Lajeunesse admits with a nervous laugh, quite unsettling. “It felt kind of creepy, for sure.

Read more in The Calgary Herald.

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