While Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg may have intended for the giant social network to be simply a tool for individuals to stay connected, many have gone on to use it for another reason. While the words “creeping” and “stalking” usually get assigned to people who are either socially inept or even criminal, they are terminologies that have been applied to a standard Facebook procedure.
There is a certain sort of “etiquette” that users of Facebook have abided by on the website, and now the people behind the network are taking action to make sure that is more clear, but not exactly in a direct way.
Group Page Function Feature
It is unclear when this new function will be live, but as the UK’s Independent reported, it will allow users of group pages to see exactly who is getting updates and when they saw them. The report shows some ambiguity into exactly what else this new function is going to deliver
A spokesperson who was quoted in the Independent article said that the feature would act as a sort of receipt, as a way to see just how much activity is going on within the group page, and to allow more transparency amongst users.
Some however see this as a way to control the amount of activity users engage in, to dissuade them from looking at pages of others as the frequency at which they might. If a user knows that their activity is able to be monitored by someone else, they may not want to engage as much as they previously were.
It will also help in checking out for too many unknown people visiting your profile and their activities on your photos and other stuffs, so that you can be safe on Facebook.
Subsiding the Addiction
Just how this is going to curb the addiction that some users develop with respect to Facebook, and arguably any other number of social networks is quite unclear, but there is little doubt that it is an issue that has been going around. An article in New Zealand’s Stuff discussed the issues some users face.
One of the major patterns that have been noticed is in regard to romantic relationships, particularly at the end of one. Psychiatrists have noted instances of individuals conducting a “stalking” behavior of their former counterpart, trying to keep track of the activities of him or her. This information was provided by from Seth Meyers, a clinical psychologist from Los Angeles, California, who was quoted in Stuff.
He said that where people start to get this sort of obsession then devolves into an array of guilt trips set off by acknowledging just how far he or she has gone to keep track of others. Eventually, the person might just gain feelings of depression.
The Independent also quoted another psychiatrist based in London who has noticed a very noticeable increase in people who are finding it difficult to get out of their digital cycle.
Hopes for More Open Interaction
So is this new group function the direct answer? Probably not. It does however look to be the beginning steps of more proactive privacy on the part of the user.
Right now, a person who is friends (on Facebook) with another can simply cruise around the profile, leaving little to no footprint of how much activity they had just conducted. If this same activity were monitored, it would certainly bring down this sort of behavior, and even more so, get people to stop being so socially dependent on the site.
This is much different from the footprints that a social network like LinkedIn does. When someone has viewed your profile (depending on the other’s privacy setting), you can be notified of just who was viewing your page. While LinkedIn is more aimed at the professional audience, the same principle of transparency can be applied.
Privacy has been a much-discussed and debated issue in the realm of social networks, but Facebook is certainly at the forefront of the issue. Perhaps the anonymity long-permitted by the website may not be as pervasive for much long with this new function. New information should emerge in light of the recent reports soon.
Written by Mike Lamardo. Edited by Rahul Chowdhury.
As a contributor to the Washington Times Communities, ZME Music, DX3, and many others, Mike Lamardo writes about everything from new technologies, the social context of music, and modern culture in the digital age.