Thursday, January 12, 2012

Facebook pulls the plug on historical members

A few days ago I reported on a fascinating experiment where students from the University of Nevada class of 1915 became Facebook users (see earlier post Facebook as a time machine). The experiment came to an abrupt halt a couple of days ago when the curator of the students' accounts, Donnelyn Curtis, was met with a message from Facebook that their accounts had been suspended. She very kindly wrote a comment to that effect on this blog which was much appreciated. The reason, not surprisingly, was that only real living people can have Facebook accounts and they must use their real identity.

This new twist is covered in more detail by the Chronicle of Higher Education, Facebook Deletes University’s History Project for Violating Social Network’s Rules. The next stage is to recreate the 1915 students as a Facebook page rather than as a profile in the same ways as groups, organisations, fan sites and companies do. The sad part of the story is that all the correspondence and comments that was linked to the original profiles are now lost since Facebook gave no warning of the suspension. The new form may not feel as real as the first incarnation but hopefully the experiment will find new openings and spawn other innovative uses for social networking.

"Although the suspension presents a temporary setback for the project, Ms. Curtis said she’s encouraged by the amount of attention the couple received. “From what I saw, there are a lot of people interested in learning history from simulated real people,” she said."

 I wonder if Google+ would be interested?

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