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ISSUE 121 VOL 2 PUBLISHED 9/28/2007

Facebook turns lurid

By Hannah Hayes
Staff Writer


Friday, September 28, 2007

You remember the day. Early last winter, we awoke to the howls and cries of fellow students in the hallways. Facebook had crossed the line.

It was Shay's Rebellion: football players threw their fists into the air in the name of privacy, and girls wept for fear their secret profile views would be discovered.

We spent the rest of the day joining groups to denounce the oh-so-scary "news feeds" and making sure that everyone all the way up to the Washington Post heard our concerns.

And as sad as it was, that was our generation's March on Washington, our March on Palo Alto.

Like a delusional spouse, we came back to Facebook and vowed to compromise. And although we have our privacy settings, I might venture to say that our gradual comfort with said feeds has led to epidemic personality whoring as we download colorful, sugary applications to our profiles.

Today, we are at best indifferent to our friends and our networks knowing our Facebook actions, and now with the advent of Graffiti, Top Friends and my personal favorite, Hobo Wars, people see us in a new, ridiculous light.

A couple days ago I received a wall post from my good friend Jack. He wrote, "The scope of your profile frightens me. Do we really need the Compass application?" I couldn't answer his question.

My profile already stated that my political views are "very liberal," so why did I need a graphic to reiterate that? Why did I really need any of the applications? I went through my profile in a deletion frenzy and decided to leave only the most important application: the Barack Obama news feature and my Scrubs quotes application.

However, I'm still bombarded with daily invitations to join the Zombies application or to engage in the Compare People application. With over 4,000 bizarre profile appliances, it's impossible to emerge unscathed.

The weirdest part is that people seem to love them. Without blinking, users splatter their profiles with absurd methods of capturing their personas. There are the useless, benign applications like the virtual aquarium and the SuperPoke! through which one virtually pinches, hugs or tickles a friend.

Even though, according to Facebook, these are the most commonly used applications, there's always that friend who has something totally outlandish on his or her profile. A friend of mine has the Dogbook application, where one can upload pictures and give information about his or her dog. My friend, instead, uses Dogbook to gather information about his girlfriend.

Another classy move is the Hot or Not application, sponsored by a website where users, for their own personal use, can have their hotness rated on a numerical scale. Finally!

The truly scary aspect of applications concerns your wallet. I'm not saying we should get our pitchforks and march to California, but maybe we should be more upset about this than we are.

Companies now leer in every corner of Facebook and even use the dead space on the side of your profile to get your attention. Maybe there's no harm in the virtual aquarium. Maybe there's no harm in putting your girlfriend in your Dogbook.

But when Forbes, Zappos.com, eBay, Virgin Mobile and other companies push their flashy gadgets in your face in hopes of making money, Facebook becomes less of a community and more of a cash cow.

Its host: the youth culture of America. Applications aren't tools. We are.





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