I have a profile on Facebook. I don’t spend a lot of time there; mostly playing the Scrabble clone Scrabulous, actually. (I’m winning one game thanks to “zit” on a triple word score; the other is heading for a photo-finish.) And seeing what my friends are up to.
I’m not doing the free-for-all friends thing. I’m only adding people who I actually know. People I’ve had real two-way interaction with at some stage in my life. Which probably doesn’t include most of the people reading this blog post.
I’m afraid I just don’t buy the idea of adding anybody who pops up requesting it.
In October the BBC reported results of an experiment: they created a fictitious Facebook user called Amba Friend, and sent friend requests to 100 random Facebook users. 35 said yes, and ones details were used by the BBC investigating team to open a bank account and credit card in his name. Which worked.
Computer security company Sophos did a similar experiment back in August, with 87 of 200 happily adding Sophos’s toy frog “Freddi Staur” as their friend. Sophos posted guidelines for protecting your privacy on Facebook, which is well worth reading.
Obviously it highlights the dangers of putting too much of your personal life (or at least, your details) online. Hell, I’m wary about putting my birth date online — though it’s not excessively hard to find. My address? Nup, no way.
Not that I really believe anybody is going to try identity fraud on me via Facebook.
But I’m not doing the whole “whoever has the most friends wins” thing. If we’ve actually met, if we’ve actually spoken, if we’ve actually had some kind of meaningful two-way interaction then great, I’ll add you! (I might even go looking for you — I’m pretty curious about what some of my old school and uni friends are up to.)
Otherwise nup. Don’t feel offended; it’s not that I don’t like you. I just don’t know you… and that’s not how I’m using Facebook, sorry.
But hey, I’m sure there’s plenty of other random people out there you can add. Amba Friend and Freddi Staur, for a start.
I don’t indulge in MySpace. Call me an old man if you like, but it’s too loud for me. Oh dear. Do I have an Old Man’s attitude to social networking?