Op-Ed: Fake Facebook accounts may be used to spy on students at Franklin & Marshall

By Joe Yamulla || Opinion & Editorial Editor

Going to a small school like Franklin & Marshall can sometimes be frustrating. Everyone knows you, your business, and many times there is not much of a sense of privacy. Recently, I’ve come across a troubling finding. There are some Facebook accounts befriending F&M students (especially those in on-campus organizations) who don’t appear to actually exist. Not only are these fake accounts definitely not F&M students, they don’t even seem to be real people. This has become a major concern to students, including myself, who fear that these accounts have been created by college administrators to spy on what students do and what they post. If this were the case, we are dealing with an extremely inappropriate, abusive breach of privacy against F&M students.

One account in particular goes by the name Ramona Maria Rodriguez. After checking the F&M online database and campus address book, this person does not appear to exist. There is, what I believe to be, stone cold evidence that proves she is a made-up person. This leads to some scary thoughts. First, there is clearly someone who made this account and befriended hundreds of students just to keep an eye on what they’re doing. In my opinion, this was a calculated move by a person with a genuine interest in how F&M students present themselves on social media. There is barely any sense of privacy at Franklin & Marshall College. Even with such a small community, no student should be suffocated, lurked upon, or judged through a fake account’s manipulation.

If you are friends with the “Rodriguez” account, I suggest you delete her, unless you are okay with an unknown person going out of his or her way to make an account with the intention of spying on your personal activity. I, for one, am certainly not okay with it and I was added by the account months ago. I accepted without thought, as I do for most F&M students. However, as I became suspicious of the account, things started to add up. I’m a white male on campus who is a member of a plethora of organizations. I’m in a fraternity and have held leadership positions. I’m an easy target to stalk. I mean, why not check if a successful student could mess up by posting something dumb on Facebook? I’m using myself as an example, but I know for a fact this account is friends with hundreds of other F&M students just like me. Even if our accounts are appropriate (like most are) filled with pictures of dogs and memes, befriending an account like this still makes us susceptible to inappropriate judgments via a major invasion of privacy. I still don’t know what the motives of this account holder are, nor if it actually is a member of the administration. However, I feel that if that is the case, this individual should have the courage to speak up and apologize to the student body for his/her controversial presence on social media.

Let’s use this as an example to learn. It is an opportunity to realize how vulnerable social media makes us, and also that this tiny school doesn’t give us much space nor boundaries. I know I’m not alone in being bothered by this account. I also know that I’m not alone in desiring some privacy. So, let’s keep our eyes open. Even without knowing the intent of fake Facebook accounts, I can assure you that they could be extremely dangerous when having access to your every move on social media.

Junior Joe Yamulla is the Opinion & Editorial Editor. His email is jyamulla@fandm.edu.

Editor’s Note: This is an Opinion & Editorial piece. Any speculations present in this piece should not be read as purely factual as they solely reflect the opinions and concerns of the author. The College Reporter invites any person or entity named in this piece to provide a formal comment to our editing staff and we will update accordingly.

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