Tuesday, April 29, 2008

This Is Not How The Internet Works, People

An email was sent to everyone in our theatre department today.

It came from the design faculty, and it expressed their concerns that students were taking pictures of fellow students joking around in costume and posting them on Facebook. Or -- even worse -- taking pictures of students during a rehearsal and posting those pictures on Facebook.

The email claimed that "if you do a Google search on the names of our designers, the Facebook images will turn up before the designers' official websites and portfolios, and future employers will judge our designers based on badly-photographed, unfinished work."

In short, cease and desist.

Except... that's not how Facebook works.

Anyone with half a brain has a "friends-only" Facebook profile, so the only people who see their photos are people to whom they have granted access.

Additionally, the photos are only tagged by the names of the people in the pictures. (People who post cast pictures on Facebook are generally too insensitive to remember to credit the costume designer.) Which means that, already, the pictures are two steps removed; first, they are hidden behind a friendwall, and secondly, they are completely detached from the names of any designers.

Lastly: have Facebook pictures started to appear at the top of Google searches? Ever willing to sacrifice myself for science, I decided to run a test to find out.

I googled a few of our designers' names, doing both a "general" and an "image"-based search. I didn't find a single Facebook image. I didn't find links to people's Facebook profiles.

Then I ran a search for the titles of a few of our recent plays. I ran searches for the title plus the name of our university. I even ran searches including actors' names, to see if it would dig up a Facebook tag.

I could not find a single Facebook picture in any of these searches.

Which makes me wonder what the fuss is all about.

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