There’s been talk on various forums about fishiness going on in the class of 2013 Facebook groups across the board – at Wesleyan, and tons of other colleges. It appears that a couple of people on Facebook, such as Justin Gaither, have started Class of ’13 Facebook groups at tons of colleges, including Wesleyan. They appear to have absolutely no affiliation with the colleges they’re creating Facebook groups for.
I first came across this suspicion toward Justin Gaither on the Wesleyan CollegeConfidential forums, where fangsup15 wrote:
Yeah what the heck, Justin Gaither is in every single Facebook Class of 2013 groups… There are also a number of people who appear in numerous Class of groups (Cathy Li, Tommy Choi, the girl with the luggage, the person that’s water skiing or w/e).
I was thinking maybe they’ve just overapplied or w/e, but half of them are college grads!
Then Wesleying got an e-mail from Marilyn Stelzner. She appears to be affiliated with Summit Prep Charter High School (how she found Wesleying, I don’t know), and she linked us to a page on squaredpeg.com called Facebook: Pay Attention:
See how many times those names appear in admin for these groups, and look at their friends and see how many times those names pop up. A LOT. This isn’t just the Common App Effect, where students apply to every school under the sun. These people aren’t interested in going to every school they have started a group for. No, this is an inside ring with a common purpose. They don’t always create the group, but they do always get in, friend someone, and get control rights.
You might have the same thought I had at first. I responded to Megan, “That is very interesting. I don’t really see where squatting could be beneficial. After all, the students who join and participate will steer the group in whatever direction they take it. I’ve never heard of anything like that.”
Sure, not for one school. Not for tiny little Butler, with 900 incoming students.
But for 500+ schools? Owning the admin rights to groups equaling easily 1,000,000+ freshman college students? That’s huge.
Think of it: Sitting back for 8-10 months, (even a few years), maybe friending everyone and posing as an incoming student. Think of the data collection. The opportunities down the road to push affiliate links. The opportunity to appear to be an ‘Admin’ of Your School Class of 2013. The chance to message alumni down the road. The list of possibilities goes on and on and on.
I’ve said many times, step back and let the student group start on its own. Today, I change that position. It seems that we have been gamed, and we need to at least own the admin rights to the group in an effort to protect our incoming students. To end the possibility of them being pushed ads and “buy these sheets for college” stuff this summer. You know there is a motive behind all of this. And you know it has to do with money. And you KNOW you’re going to get calls about it when it happens.
Be sure to read the full squaredpeg.com article for more back story and updates – it’s interesting and completely baffling. Maybe Wesleyan admissions did a pretty decent job creating its own Class of ’13 facebook group after all.
Update 12/20 8pm: New info has come up that apparently some College Prowler interns were behind this process in an attempt to be progressive in new media/viral marketing/social networking. They’ve issued an apology, noting that they crossed the line. Read up more about it here. Thanks to fangsup15 from CollegeConfidential again for the tip! And let this be a lesson: even when it’s less obvious, people who shouldn’t technically be in your network have access to your information and will probably take advantage of it. Yay!