All Walls Will Crumble In Time… (Thoughts on Creating A New Facebook Account)

Shea's been resisting for a long time but while attending a 65th birthday party last night and hearing various parents discuss whether or not they should join Facebook like their kids, Shea decided she'd rather lump herself with the younger generation than the older one and has thus, finally joined Facebook.

I was happy to see her do this, at least partly for the completely selfish reason that it gave me a reminder of the initial sign-up process I went through over a year ago when I first joined (back in the good old days when only people with official college e-mail addresses could join! </snob>)

I don't really remember much about when I signed up (not realising the transformative power that Facebook would hold over our entire society just over a year later ) but a few things stood out as Shea went through the sign-up process…

– the privacy settings are right there during the set-up to be configured as tightly as you want although, to be honest, the defaults are probably a bit “looser” than they should be, especially that default that anyone of your friends AND anyone in your network can see your profile.  When you're in a network the size of a city, that's a lot of people who can peer at you!

– I could've sworn there was a menu of choices for “Religion” just like they have for “Political View” but nope, religion is fill-in-the-blank.  (Maybe politics should be too?)

– having been a bit overwhelmed lately with all the apps I see on people's profiles (including my own), it was pretty nice to remember how clean a Facebook profile is when first created.  Since the launch of Facebook Applications, the site is like MySpace Lite in terms of the extraneous crap that's all over it (and frankly has lost a bit of its appeal in my opinion because of this.)  If you feel the same way (and use Firefox), the Face Off extension might be of interest.  It removes all third-party applications from any Facebook profile you view. 

– the biggest change I noticed was that Shea had to provide a mobile phone number to authenticate her account.  Until she did that, she was having to fill out a captcha every single time she added someone.  I'm pretty sure I never had to do this when I signed up so that's a major shift and quite a frustrating one too – maybe everyone in the Facebook target demographic has text messaging access (but I doubt it.)  And up until a couple weeks ago, we didn't have a cell phone either so would've been out of the loop on this feature completely (okay, we could've “borrowed” the text-messaging feature of somebody's phone easily enough to get our confirmation password.  But the point stands – not everybody has a text-enabled cell phone – even in this day and age – so why not provide an optional way to confirm that you are indeed a real live person?)

– It was interesting to see how Shea, as a female and as a mother and as a medical professional, handled some of the decisions about what information to list versus decisions I made with my own profile/account.  She didn't list her current or any former workplaces for instance and tightened up some of the security settings from their defaults as well.

– a couple of the failings of Facebook I knew about but which weren't as much of an issue to me jumped out when Shea created her profile.  She used the workaround of creating an account with her maiden name listed as her middle name to help people who knew her before she was married to find her.  That works if you're already married when you create your account but what if you're single now and get married someday?  Or reverse it – what if you get divorced?  You've got this profile you've likely invested a great deal of time and energy into building and now, you're unable to change your name on it? 

– the other issue that jumped out was multiple schooling locations which again, wasn't an issue for me since I went to Indian Head schools all through my life.  But Shea did her schooling until Grade Nine in a small community called Creelman then went to Weyburn for high school.  Facebook makes it difficult (though not impossible) to add multiple schools to your profile, especially if they're not already in their database (which Creelman school, now closed and with a total village population of 87) definitely isn't.

– I briefly thought about creating an account for Pace but realised that they only have as recent as “2006” for the years you can choose for your birth date.  (Oh, also that this would be a cute idea initially but is probably pretty dumb otherwise.)  But yeah, why would they allow accounts to (conceivably) be created for one year olds but not babies born within the last year?  Strange.  I expected the cut-off to be 13 years old for new accounts (1994) as I think that's the age commonly used in US law for young people to create their own accounts with online services.  (If somebody wants to try an experiment, try to create an account as if somebody was born in 2006 and see what happens!)

Okay, those are some random thoughts.  If you're on Facebook, feel free to add Shea – she thinks she can catch up to my num
ber of friends within a week or two. “Plus they'll all be real friends, not like all the “Facebook friends” your account is full of!” 

Comments 5

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    Welcome Shea, there are lots of people joining now who were hold-outs for a long time, it can be a useful tool, it's all in what you make of it.
    It's nice that the privacy settings are more upfront, when I joined you had to go searching for them; religion was definitely fill-in-the-blank from the beginning, what I have in my profile isn't likely to show up in a drop-down menu (but it should) and I do agree that political affiliation ought to be fill-in-your-own, because it is usually one of those things that isn't easily defined.
    I am now rejecting extra applications left and right, there are too many and it crowds the profile (I do love Scrabulous though)..I don't remember that mobile phone thing at first either…that could be new.
    And I'm sure by the time Pace is old enough to care about social networking, facebook will have gone the way of the dinosaurs or the planet Pluto..and something newer and shinier will be available!

    Posted 06 Aug 2007 at 6:49 pm
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    They did have a number of choices for religious background. At least, they did when I signed up. It wasn't a fill-in-the-blank at all. And there weren't that many choices, either…

    Posted 07 Aug 2007 at 11:26 pm
  3. Anonymous wrote:

    I honestly can't remember from when I signed up (early in 2006) but I wonder if it was once a bit of both for religion? You could choose a pull-down option from a list or add your own? I also can't remember if my longest-listed “religion” was something I put in right from day one but I do know that religion I entered was: “as close to atheist as an agnostic can get” and there's no way that's on any menu.
    I wonder if the choice/no choice option is to do with their marketing plans? Maybe Facebook wants to target ads based on people's political beliefs (“We can market your product to young liberal men in New York”) but targeting based on religion is more risky (although I don't see why it would be.)
    Anyhow, a choice of pick from list or fill in your own would be an ideal situation in both cases if you ask me (not that anybody did.)

    Posted 09 Aug 2007 at 11:40 pm
  4. Anonymous wrote:

    You can do a name change under settings of your account. It has to be submitted to facebook then they approve it. I was wondering about that too as I am getting married in Sept and will be changing my name.

    Posted 13 Aug 2007 at 4:59 am
  5. Anonymous wrote:

    Hey Shannon,
    I didn't realise that. Thanks for letting me (and anybody who reads this) know.
    If you do/did it, let me know how long the turnaround time was – often big web sites like this take a long time to handle user requests.
    This still doesn't deal with the issue of Facebook making married women (who change their name) have to choose either their pre-marriage or post-marriage name.
    The workaround of using both names seems to work though – not sure what your married name is going to be (congrats by the way!) but you should consider asking for a change to “Shannon Grant NewName” instead of “Shannon NewName”.
    people finding you from your pre-marriage life unfortunately. Shea recently had a friend add her who was going by her single name instead of her married name. She explained that she was more interested in having people from her school days find her.

    Posted 14 Aug 2007 at 1:04 am

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