Monday, June 7, 2010

A Social Experiment

There is this random person who is now friends with many of my high school Facebook friends.  She may be real.  I'll give her the benefit of the doubt but it made me think.

What if I made up some random name.  How about Jenny Smith?  And then I selected a group of friends.  High school, college...it could be in a totally different state.  My experiment would be to select this specific group, specifically high school because it would probably be the largest collection of "friends in common".

So let's say I choose "Anytown High School in Anytown, USA".  Let's say class of 1990.  Maybe I would try to find the class president or the star quarterback.  Someone with a lot of friends.  I would then start requesting friendships.  How easy would it be to nudge my way into that social circle?  A freakshow (not me because this is purely for interpersonal communication studies of course) could probably get herself invited to the class reunions and she would have enough information from Facebook to hang with the class.  How many people would realize that they don't really know Jenny Smith or that there never was a Jenny Smith? 

I wonder as I see high school friends becoming Facebook friends with randoms on Facebook.  Although unlikely, it's kind of scary what kind of damage could be done via Facebook.  Good thing Jenny Smith isn't a freakshow.

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