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Monday, March 04, 2024
NEWS  |  NSE

OMG, that’s TMI: Exercise discretion on Facebook

Laura Lombardo is 2,131 friends richer. She has created 55 photo albums, and so far there are 1,260 photos of her online. She checks Facebook from her Blackberry while she's waiting in line or on the bus to pass the time.

And every day, she logs in four or five times, even if she has nothing new to add to her profile.

Facebook started as a social network for college students, and it has since become a networking tool for anyone willing to start an account.

It's become a place where poke wars can last for years, where friends lists can outnumber real-life friends and where the curious can discover other Facebookers' moves through the site's News Feed, a once controversial application that's now just another option in an endless sea of new applications.

Lombardo, a UF public relations and psychology senior, said she feels as if she has lost a lot of her privacy, although she has a private profile. People can post as much information about themselves as they want, but sometimes issues still arise, she said.

"It makes life a lot less private. Everyone has access to so much info, and it really complicates things like relationships, friendships and looking for jobs," she said.

But users have to take the bad with the good.

"Facebook has become a primary way to contact pretty much anyone," Lombardo said. "I have professors that are on it that have made groups for the class. And it's a great way for teacher-student and student-student communication."

She said although she has never dated anyone from the Web site, she has found new friends.

But Albert Matheny, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences associate dean for student affairs, said students often post too much information on Facebook.

"Students put all kinds of stuff out there that can be really bad," Matheny said.

Matheny, who is in charge of the academic side of Preview, said freshmen should think twice before posting information on their profiles.

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Anyone from parents to employers to professors can keep tabs on the site, he said.

"The employers are now looking at these Facebook pages routinely," he said. "Even if they don't have access, they can find ways to get in. It's not hard to do."

New students should be careful about the identity they create for themselves online.

"A lot of students are really not careful," he said. "They almost kind of use it to parade themselves in a racier light than they actually are. I think that is the biggest thing, that they just overcool themselves."

Students shouldn't put anything on the Internet they don't want the whole world to see, he said.

"If you wouldn't want your grandmother to see it, then don't put it in there," Matheny said.

In addition to creating an online identity, students on Facebook can join online groups, which bring students together who have similar interests, however silly or mundane they may seem.

Lauren Wilson, a UF psychology and law senior, started a group called "Easy Courses @ UF" last fall.

The group lists the easier classes offered at UF, a great tool for freshmen on the prowl for an easy class.

"[It's] kind of like an underground course listing," Wilson said. "It also helps incoming freshmen who've gone to Preview but still have no idea about courses."

She said she didn't think the group would have so many members -- 510 to date â-- but she's glad it's serving its purpose.

Another UF Facebook group, "I was in UF when we won TWO National Championships in ONE year, baby!!!!," leads UF groups with 3,655 members.

But for new students who missed their chance to be at UF for the titles, there are plenty of other groups to join.

Those groups include "I Go To UF Because It's Free," "I Live In Florida And I Don't Care How Cold It Is-I Will Continue To Wear Flip-Flops" and "Miami People Used To Giving Hello Kisses."

Wilson said she has met friends through her group.

"I think Facebook is doing a good job of helping people network and keeping old friends in touch," Wilson said. "It's up to how the individual utilizes the social network.

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