What has social media become?

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83 million Facebook accounts are fakes and dupes

There’s a reason for that: Lack of accountability and oversight concerning the 83 million accounts.

Back when Facebook first started, you could only sign up with a valid email address from a college or other institution of learning; here in 2012, anyone with email can create one, or many.

There are a plethora of reasons why somebody would create multiple accounts (and not all are bad):

  1. If you run a business and you want to separate your business contacts from your personal contacts. Perhaps the company you work has a condition of employment where you create an account with your company email and that’s how you do your job.
  2. Creating a personal account for yourself that you can be yourself on, while creating another to watch over your kids; some call it spying, I would call it good parenting.
  3. If you’re into activities that could have an adverse effect on something in your life (such as employment), you might create a second account, so that you can ‘be yourself’.
  4. If you’re an author, perhaps you create an account as your pseudonym.
  5. If you’re a public figure, perhaps you create one account for family and immediate friends, and one for everyone else to see.

While I have not read it fully, Facebook’s Terms of Service seems to look like a labyrinth. This is the closest I could find to what could be considered section where you would go to handle a problem.

One of the biggest developments that has occurred is the ability to see your friends’ activity (comments, ‘likes’, status updates, etc…) upon Pages, Events, and Groups that you have no interest in seeing.  Not to mention that if a friend of mine comments on their friends’ status post, I end up seeing that activity, even if I am not mutual friends with that person. To put some realism on that: It would be as if your best friends’, best friend sent your friend an email and there was a BCC (blind carbon copy) with your email; this results in you secretly receiving the email without your friends’ friend knowing about it.

The article I references at the beginning tells us that there are more than 83 million user accounts that are either duplicitous, fraudulent, spam-ridden, or dormant. You can also find Pages, Groups, and Events that are just as ‘corrupt’:

  • Pages and Groups that are solely dedicated to hating or despising someone or something – which I think is a violating of their terms of service.
  • Groups that are marked ‘secret’ that are probably dedicated to fostering illegal or unethical activity (I’m sure for every crime or national news event that has occurred, there is at least one Group that has ‘the plans’).
  • Events with the sole purpose of harming someone or something.

While I don’t have the numbers to back it, I would be willing to bet that 1/3 of the billions of Pages and Groups on Facebook violate Facebook’s Terms of Service in some form. If anything, I’d think it would be more prudent to eliminate those pages and groups, than it would be to worry about duplicate, dormant, or fraudulent accounts.

To go full circle: Facebook is a virtual social network allowing people from wherever to engage in social dialogue with others based on interest or location; it was not intended for fourteen year old kids to have accounts, and it was for darn sure not designed to allow somebody to create 10 accounts. How could Facebook go about improving the quality of their product?

  1. Go fully hypocritical and start charging for an accounts; say $4.95/month per account.  If you are a business who wishes to create accounts for their employees to use, they can use a corporate credit card and be on a different pricing schedule.  Those who don’t want to pay, can leave.  It might also discourage people from creating ‘bogus accounts’.
  2. If an account has not been posted to for a year, deleting it and all information associated from the database.  In addition, if a user terminates an account, that account gets permanently deleted with now way to retrieve. If a legal matter makes it necessary to keep the account active, then hand that over to law enforcement in some capacity.
  3. Start an actual customer service center to field phone calls from users that are having account problems or wish to report a problem.
  4. When it comes to reporting activity, establish a system of checks and balances; keeping a log of who reports what.  Reporting should be for serious things such as crime, threats, impersonation, and things of a serious nature.  If it is serious, some kind of cyber crime division should be following up with the person who reported it.
  5. Establish an age requirement – perhaps 18?  If not an age requirement, make it easier for parents to monitor their kids’ usage.  Perhaps, if your sixteen year old son wants an account, they have to be ‘friends’ with their parents, otherwise the account never gets created.
  6. Allow more transparent communication with the users that use the service – make it easier to contact the Facebook teams if they need help.
  7. Create a support network with law enforcement to have some administrative rights over accounts (such as deletion of accounts), with very dedicated training of how not to abuse that power.

Finally, things that people themselves can do:

  1. Remember that social media is on the internet – there is no expectation of privacy – ever.  If it’s something sensitive, take it offline and phone that person.
  2. Establish friends, connect with family, or share information, but think of the ‘party line concept’ when you do it.  Even if you setup lists to distribute the information, your status can be shared with unintended recipients.
  3. Monitor who is on your friends’ list.  If strange people are asking to be a friend of yours, considering declining the request.  If a friend suggests a friend and you don’t know who they are, ask that friend if they know the person being suggested.
  4. When it comes to a job search – there are HR people who are using Facebook as a data mine.  If they’ve received your resume, they may try to ‘friend you’.  If you suspect something is awry, decline the request.
  5. Since not all people fill in their accounts with real information, take what you see and read with a grain of salt.  Some people are on social media to get attention or to cause trouble. Just like the days of chatrooms “SexyStarlet22” may in fact be a 50 year old male looking to meet young boys.  On the same token the user “Jonathan Finkleman” may have an occupation as a janitor at McDonalds, and interacts with people as though they were a janitor, he’s actually a police officer monitoring things.
  6. If you suspect anything foul and you cannot or decline getting police involved, perhaps have a friend look over your shoulder while interacting with somebody – you’d be surprised how helpful the friend will be.  I know when I’m having IM conversations with people, I never assume that they are alone (they could be at the public library for all I know).

In the time that I’ve been using Facebook, I have been fortunate that I have not been subject to some of the drama and scrutiny that others have, but I like to attribute that to personal responsibility.  We all agree that Facebook’s services need to be revamped/overhauled/modified, but we can also agree that there are MANY people out there who need a lesson in responsibility for their actions.

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About the author

Mike Rana

Mike Rana is one of those people who is hard to define, though he's not immune to being labeled for something. He likes to talk about many topics including technology, business, politics, education, psychology, and human behavior. In his spare time, Mike enjoys traveling, people watching, analyzing the world around him, writing about his life experiences, absorbing information from various social media channels, and trying to be the voice of reason in the political arena.

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