Category: Facebook Group

Facebook #fail

What do you do when comments on groups cross the line from being benignly irrelevant to lewd, rude, disrespectful and abusive.

On 01.05.10 I placed a warning message on the discussion that was revolving around the Moe’s photo on the Flat Names FB group, as it was getting off topic and starting to be potentially insulting to some other contributors.

Later the same day two other members wrote some pretty disgusting stuff on the page. One post was directed at myself. I dealt with this by deleting the comments from the page (I still have the emails copies). I also blocked these members from the group and reported doing so on the page.

Should I hear from either of them again in a negative capacity I will consider the following actions:

  • blocking and reporting them on FB
  • consulting with a social media expert and lecturer I know at the University
  • contacting the Proctor of the University

It’s disappointing but I guess two bad apples in a group of 1239 isn’t too bad.

While my research is not investigating the relationship between gender and named flats, gender is could be a relevant issue to the topic. It is widely assumed that the people inhabiting named flats are the type of students who party a lot, that they are the students who tend to have the flats with the names referencing sex or alcohol, tend to be male, that are the troublemakers, the couch burners, the bottle throwers; in short the students whose actions are reported upon negatively in the media.

I don’t believe this is the situation in the majority of cases of named flats, just as it is the minority of students who are involved in antisocial behaviour. However it may well be the situation in this case.

From a gender perspective this experience certainly highlights an example of the subculture of misogyny and disrespect to women that some young men are part of. It’s not cool. It’s not funny and it’s absolutely not ok.

Facebook as a social research tool

Let me preface this posting by saying that as yet I’ve not conducted a rigorous literature review on the topic of using Facebook as a social research tool. I’m interested in this aspect of Facebook because I am using it as a tool for my social research on the named flats of Dunedin, and I think I’m going to have to devote a chapter to talking about it. Without Facebook the book wouldn’t be happening, so it’s only fair 😀

Also, I think it’ll be interesting to explore this some more.

It just so happened that Facebook fulfilled a need I had at the time (Nov 2007) – to share a bunch of photos and see if I could make some connections with the Scarfies who’d lived in those flats. It’s working. To date there are 1233 members who are tagging photos and making comments. So, Facebook is largely fulfilling that initial need of mine beautifully.

I’m finding however that there are things I’d like to do, or would be interested to discover, that Facebook currently doesn’t seem to allow, and that is due more to my needs as a researcher rather than a failing on Facebook’s part. It is, after all, inherently, a social networking forum, a place to meet and chat and share, not so much a place to easily gather, organise and distribute data.

It would be handy though.

For instance, I’d like to be able to download all wall posts to excel, I’d like to be able to download all the comments and tags against each photo in my collection. I’d like to be able to track the rate of membership against date in order to ascertain what, if any, external or internal factors may have influenced sudden leaps in numbers, for example, the freedom of the post exam period at the end of term or articles published in the media or a group of friends all joining at the same time.

Groups, it seems are being replaced by fan pages – here’s an issue. It may have a few extra features but I have a heap of data in my group and I’m not going to try and manage two sites. That’ll be a headache.

Here are some other sources I’ve found which touch on using FB for social research. Like I said, I’ve not yet thoroughly scoured for sources, I will. I’m interested to hear from anyone in the know on the subject.

Facebook research / orgtheroy.net
Poke 1.0 – a Facebook social research symposium
Supporting collaboration in the Era of Internet-scale Data / Cameron Marlow

Tagging and comments

So there’s been a MASSIVE increase in tagging of flat photos in the last week or so, I’m sure Varsity is in semester at the moment, perhaps the first round of assignments aren’t due yet … whatever the reason, it’s great to see people engaging with the Dunedin Student Flat Names FB group, and not just tagging, but writing comments and engaging in conversations too. It’s great 😀

From an ‘info’ and research perspective I’d love to see some stats on membership uptake, I’m thinking some kind of indicative linear graph showing rate of membership against date or something like that. I’m interested to get an idea of what factors influence, or generates membership – is it it the cascading effect of person X joins, so their mates Y and Z also join, or is it due to external factors like time of the year (eg holiday period) or the influence of an event or items in the news?

If anyone knows how to track this sort of stuff I’d love to know.