Seeing too much with Facebook’s ‘see friendship’?

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2010 has been a banner year for Facebook. The site has surpassed 500 million users, and “The Social Network” blockbuster was released, chronicling the rise of site founder Mark Zuckerberg.

But now Facebook is back in the news for all the wrong reasons, after one of its newest features might be taking “Facebook creeping” to a new level.

Recently, the social networking website implemented its “see friendship” add-on in place of the wall-to-wall page.

While Facebook advertises the new friendship page as a way to take a lot of the work out of Facebook browsing, many people believe the site’s new big thing may have taken one step too far.

Maya Held, an instructor in the broadcast and electronic communication department, admitted she is still a frequent user of the site even though she said “social networking went too far a while ago.” Still, she warned against overexposure on the site.

“There’s too much personal information out there that can be incriminating,” she said. “Employers look at pictures and see drinking and slutty Halloween costumes, and it does not put out a good image of yourself.”

Students also agree with this assessment. Kelly Costello, a senior in the College of Communication, said she wished it wasn’t completely necessary to have a Facebook page.

“It’s taking the ‘Facebook creeping’ to the next level,” she said. “If I could go back to my 13- or 14-year-old self, I would stop myself from ever going on Facebook.  Or at least use a pseudonym.”

Generally speaking, Internet stalking has become a prominent issue that has led to more crime in the last decade. The London Times reported one man, Paul Bristol, flew across the country and stabbed an ex-girlfriend to death after seeing her with another man on Facebook.

The Times also reported another man, George Appleton, met a single mom on Facebook and began dating her until she broke up with him after finding out he was cheating on her with four women. Appleton subsequently strangled and murdered her.

“You’ve got to be careful,” said Lt. Paul Mascari of Marquette’s Department of Public Safety. “People you interact with on a daily basis are your good friends, but you’ll meet someone at a party and friend them, and eight months later you forget they’re there. All of a sudden you have (hundreds or thousands) of friends who see everything you put up.”

Mascari also said the privacy settings aren’t always as ironclad as some people believe.

“While it’s true there are privacy settings, you almost have to make it a full-time job to stay on top of it,” Mascari said. “Facebook changes their settings all the time. Right when you think you’ve got your privacy how you want it, everything changes.”

Despite these examples, along with countless others, millions of people continue to use Facebook because of its convenience.

Liz Heinrich, a junior in the College of Education, said she uses it to keep in contact with high school friends.

“Facebook allows us to see what’s going on in each others’ lives through pictures and events,” Heinrich said. “The chat features gives us the opportunity to connect to friends at any point in time, and the message feature is just like e-mail.”

The main deterrent is potential employers seeing something embarrassing.

“I do really like using the site,” Costello said.  “I just wish I wouldn’t have ever put up pictures or other personal things that employers might look at.”

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