The Facebook Investigations On Privacy And Ethics Media

Essay add: 9-11-2017, 16:32   /   Views: 82

Social networking - more specifically Facebook - has changed the way most people - who are connected to the internet - communicate. It has enabled new avenues of personal connection, collaboration and information sharing that was only conceived a few years ago and because of the raw nature of the internet, it has exploded in population; with some sites having more members than countries have citizens (Pingdom).

The law enforcement community has always been forced to change their tactics as new technologies are developed, evolve and generally adopted by the general public but in recent times they have had to accelerate the adoption of new cyber technologies to remain only a step or two behind the criminals. Facebook has simultaneously complicated and simplified investigations by allowing large amounts of personal and private information to become available with only a few keystrokes yet providing criminals with many new and innovative ways to communicate, thus avoiding eavesdropping. Making this even more difficult for law enforcement, Facebook pride itself on providing ease of access, widespread access and a robust feature set to anyone with an internet connection.


On October 28th, 2003 Mark Zuckerberg - a sophomore at Harvard - was dumped by his girlfriend (Bertoni and Gell). In an attempt to get his mind off of his broken heart, he started developing a 'hot or not' site that promoted users to choose the 'hotter' looking picture between the two pictures displayed to the user. Harvard administration quickly shutdown the site after only a couple days when it was revealed that Zuckerberg had hacked into a Harvard server to get the private dormitory ID images from nine houses for use on Facemesh. This was only the first attempt to get Facebook started and due to an overwhelming acceptance by the student body at Harvard during the short few days that Facemesh was online, Zuckerberg decided to make a few changes and started TheFacebook in February 2004 (Hoffman).


On January 11th 2004, Zuckerberg registered the domain name '' and began the process of turning the social networking world upside-down ( In only a few hours after the site went live on February 4th 2004, there were already over twelve hundred registered users and by the end of February, over seventy-five percent of the undergraduates at Harvard were registered on the site (Cassidy). At first registration was limited to the students at Harvard but just after a month online, TheFacebook expanded to include several other Ivy League colleges followed shortly by all colleges. In 2005 the domain name was purchased for $200,000 dollars and became simply (Williams).


It didn't take long before venture capitalists were knocking down the doors, offering double digit millions to invest with the latest and greatest upstart company that was spreading like a California wildfire. Currently Facebook has over 400 million active users with more than half logging into the site on any given day (Facebook). As of March 13th 2010, Facebook overtook and became the number one visited website for the week (Dougherty). Taking into consideration the 1.6% equity stake Microsoft made - costing Microsoft $240 million - in Facebook on October 24th, 2007, Facebook is now estimated to be worth over $15 billion dollars (Microsoft).

The popularity of this site has been highly attractive to campus administrators, law enforcement and just about anybody who is looking for a cheap background check on another person as most people do not consider the ramifications of posting something on the internet. The amount of information that some people post on Facebook is enough for other people to live another life vicariously through an online profile or provide officials with enough incriminating evidence to take action against the Facebook user.

The use of Facebook in investigations

High School and Middle School

Facebook has been used throughout its short life as an investigation tool by various college officials to penalize students and staff alike for their misdoings. Underage drinking has always plagued college campuses but now when students post their pictures from recent debaucheries, they often forget that once something makes it online, it cannot be taken back. Over a hundred Eden Prairie High School students found this out the hard way in late 2007 when photos posted on Facebook surfaced showing the students at various parties. Several students were suspended from school sanctioned sports and extracurricular activities (Smith and Blanchard). High school students are not the only ones finding themselves in hot water over Facebook postings, more than 20 middle school students in Seattle were suspended for becoming fans of a group that focused on belittling an 11 year old McClure Middle School student (Hana).

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