Can you be fooled by a dog on facebook?
This New Yorker cartoon sums up the legacy media’s (e.g., newspaper, tv, magazine, etc.) attack on the threat posed by the Internet:
In other words, the Internet lacks credibility. Does facebook suffer from the same line of criticism? On facebook, can anyone tell if you are a dog?
I would think so – it’s hard to create a fake identity on facebook! For the first time over the Internet, facebook provides meaningful identity warranting. Think about what it would take to create a good fake profile: you’d have to have pictures and know the other persons preferences quite well. And then you’d have to convince real people to ‘friend’ you, which is a hard task for a fake identity. (However, it might be possible to masquerade as someone else for a little while.)
But your virtual identity has an interesting feature: you have even more control over your self-presentation. I choose my profile picture and I have to agree to friend someone. I am not obligated to share any preferences that might undermine how I want to present myself. I can even use photoshop to enhance my image, or put my face in an outlandish jibjab “starring you” video.
In the parlance of Walther and Parks, facebook is mediated communication with this special mix of “cues filtered in”, “cues filtered out” and “cues bent and twisted.” Perhaps most relevantly, for the first time, these cues are very real.