Yeah, I’m still on Facebook. Here’s why

facebooklogo.pngAbout six weeks back I announced plans to take down my Facebook page. Thanks to input from colleagues and readers, I’ve changed my mind.

I still bristle at the “careless” postings on Facebook, and I icon_friends.gifstill feel like a voyeur when embarrassing pictures of folks I know are posted to the world — a world that could include future employers — and maybe even your mom! But privacy settings are helping Facebook members set much-needed roadblocks, so maybe there’s hope.

Since research is a huge part of my job, I really must continue to observe the site, and I can only do that as a member. Facebook already is playing a role in the campaigns my graduates work on. It also gives me useful insight into those I serve — college students. And you know what? You guys don’t behave any worse than we did 30 years ago, or at least your photo albums don’t reflect any new level of decadence. Truth be known, I’m am soooooo glad we didn’t have digital cameras in the 70s.

icon_photos.gifSince announcing my decision to leave Facebook, I’ve paid closer attention to the site, checking it twice a day. I actually joined a common-interest group, excited to learn that 58,000 other Facebook members “judge you by your grammar.” I’ve also spent some time exploring the “free ringtone” offers from Verizon, one of onlygrlogo.jpg two Facebook advertisers invading my newsfeeds so far. But the ringtone I really want, “Sweet Child O’ Mine” (GunsN’Roses), isn’t on the freebies list. Sorry, guys, but I can’t bring myself to pay for such a frivilous thing — no matter how little it costs.

I’m curious to see how the presidential candidates will use Facebook to connect with young voters, most of whom tuned out mainstream media long ago — if they ever tuned in at all. I’m also fascinated by viral marketing potential this network offers, and its almost endless creative potential for PR professionals who take time to understand the Facebook culture.

Let’s hope the PR and marketing folks don’t abuse Facebook. But I’m certain they’ll at least try. As a profession, we’re still way more worried about pushing sell messages than creating conversations. We’re slowly learning the power of Web 2.0, but I still worry that Facebook could become a spamfest. I think Zuckerberg is smarter than that — and so does Fortune magazine.

So I’ll remain a lurker on Facebook just as I’ve been from the outset. I vow not to chastise my “friends” when they embarrass themselves. And as always, I won’t ask any students to join my circle of friends, nor will I refuse any who invite me to join theirs.

But be forewarned: If you post new photographs or you’re tagged in photos posted by others, I’m gonna look at them. There is, after all, a little voyeur in all of us.

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