One of the strangest things I’ve done so far this semester is certainly some good ol’ Facebook stalking. Obviously, this isn’t my first go round on the process, but in the past I’ve always perused the information of people I am at least tangentially related to (via friend or family). Which, I think is the sort of social contract Facebook users have signed up to consciously (v. all those we have unconsciously signed up to). We all expect, at least in part, to be visible to “friends of friends,” especially since Facebook provides us a setting that specifically designed to allow this. I feel like most casual users are aware of this, and okay with it, in a way, if only because your friends have been “vetted.” You trust your friends (or you should, or you want to). And thus, you expect your friends to act with the same sort of diligence: you trust them to trust their friends. (Following this theory to its end, everyone would be trust worthy, but I digress…)
But things get murky when you go after people who you don’t know and who obviously don’t know you. Facebook, of course, makes no guarantees to safeguard your information. And we all know that we are visible, in some way, to others. But I think there is a cognitive gap (at least for me). We know it’s possible for strangers to explore our personal information. But we don’t expect it to happen to us.
Amid this internal debate, though, I know that the end to my means is of importance to the community — enough so to merit my “Facebook stalking.” Still, I can’t help but feel the eerie reality of the digital footprint we have all unwittingly created.