Four years ago, I took a snapshot of my Facebook news feed as election results were announced. I was looking for negative reactions toward either Obama or McCain. I captured a few dozen reactions written in the status messages of 18-24 y/os, deleted first/last names, mosaic-blurred profile photos heavily, and compiled a collection that was later posted as an album on Facebook. Eventually, even the blurred profile photos were removed. Now, you could see raw, anonymous status messages next to one another— well, anonymous unless you knew who wrote it.
The aggregate effect was disappointing on two counts: 1) there were many statements targeting race and religion from people whom I believed were above that and 2) people did not realize (!) that their Facebook status messages (!) were quite public and could very well (and easily) be taken as an endorsement of a belief or opinion. After all, in a news feed, your status message appeared right next to your name and photo.
I remember catching heat for the album, but the heat came from individuals who saw their negative status messages next to other negative status messages. Remember, any identifying information was removed when the status messages were compiled. Regardless, many people deleted their questionable status messages anyway and wrote to explain that they were “just joking, jeez.”
I would love to track reactions on Facebook tonight, but I will be out at hospital/meetings. I have a feeling my news feed will not have changed much from 2008, though.
So I think I’ve finally equilibrated to 13-hour school/hospital/MCAT days.