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Can you be fooled by a dog on facebook?

November 1st, 2007

This New Yorker cartoon sums up the legacy media’s (e.g., newspaper, tv, magazine, etc.) attack on the threat posed by the Internet:

dog

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.

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  1. November 8th, 2007 at 00:59 | #1

    You may not be able to create a completely false identity on Facebook, although I suspect it’s possible.

    Certainly though it is possible to pretend to be a dog on Facebook:

    http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=550132783&pc=1

    Stephen

  2. November 8th, 2007 at 10:16 | #2

    I’ve noticed a trend among older facebook users to use proxy pictures. My sister-in-law uses a picture of her kids; other people use their pet. I think that facebook identity may be a real person with a “cute” profile picture. But I can’t really tell, since I have only a limited view.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. November 10th, 2007 at 13:41 | #3

    You must be kidding me…
    John Adams, and his well known crew of friends including Samual Adams, John Quincy Adams and more: http://www.facebook.com/friends.php?id=508958176
    Then there are the Dictators long gone:
    Idi Amin (http://www.facebook.com/friends.php?id=552142046), Genghis Khan (http://www.facebook.com/friends.php?id=543825162), Adolf Hittler (http://www.facebook.com/friends.php?id=711764478), Nicolae Ceau?escu (http://www.facebook.com/friends.php?id=654980291),
    Or how about Dwight D. Eisenhower (http://www.facebook.com/friends.php?id=528412446), Patton (http://www.facebook.com/friends.php?id=528142482), and I am sure I can continue on…

    Not sure how they decide that people are fake, but some of those guys have been up there for a long time :)

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