Leave Facebook stalkers alone! [On the Contrary] Apr20

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Leave Facebook stalkers alone! [On the Contrary]

Lately I’ve been noticing on Facebook the proliferation of programs that allow you to uncover who searches you the most, or who views your page most frequently—your top “stalkers,” if you will. My immediate reaction to these programs (before finding out that they were all pretty much a scam) was to be unsettled, which then made me wonder why I was unsettled. Am I trying to hide something?

Not that I know of. While I regularly check Facebook, I do not often spend long periods of time on it. I stop in to see any witty status updates, if someone has posted on my wall, or if I have been tagged, poked, or written upon. And yes, occasionally I’ll look up some old friends to if there is anything new on their page. Nothing about my Facebook habits would embarrass me if everything I did on it were published on my wall. So why did I care about these “stalker tracker” programs?

Because I’m sure that not everyone is as comfortable about his or her surfing habits as I might be. As much as we talk about social networking as a way to bring us all together, the real strength is in its ability to control our interaction. Many people with no interest in being social are rabid consumers of social networking. It’s like a video game of socialization, without the nuisance of having tradition relationships with other human beings. I’m not criticizing this, it’s simply another mode of interaction. And for those who choose to make it their primary mode, it seems like their ability to view from afar is part of the appeal.

Facebook and social networking is all about choice. We choose what we want to display, who we want to be friends with, and who we want interact with. We have complete control over anything that bears our name. We can take down posts, block people, and while we can’t remove embarrassing pictures others post, we can take our names off of them so that they can’t be searched for. You put your information out there, so being annoyed about someone spending too much time on your Facebook page is akin to going out in public without pants and then complaining when people don’t want to make eye contact with you.

A person can choose to make contact with you or not. What people don’t choose is to have their movements tracked. It seems unfair to suddenly turn the tables on people who were trying to be discreet. Many of these “stalker” programs were purporting to not only tell you who has been checking you out; but also enable you to post that material for all to see. If they had truly worked, that would have just been mean.

The only situation I could see such a tracking programs being useful would be in the case of minors. If you have children on Facebook, I can completely understand the desire to find out the kind of people looking them up, but of course in this case you should be carefully overseeing their social networking anyway.

Even if someone does one day release a non-scam Facebook app that allows you to see who is really tracking you, I have made a conscious decision not to find out my top Facebook stalkers. I feel like it could only lead to disappointment. For the most part, I could probably guess who would fall in the top group, and even if there were surprises, it probably would not turn out to be someone I’d want to interact with (since presumably I’d already be keeping in contact with people I’d want to engage with). Maybe part of me is worried that somehow I’d find that actually no one was looking at my page, which would be more of an ego blow than it probably should be for a healthy adult person.

So let’s do a favor for the shy, the creepy, and the socially awkward who choose to make Facebook their domain. Even if a real Facebook stalker app is released, let’s let them keep their anonymity. Let’s agree to resist future temptation and not utilize tracker programs. After all, if stalkers can’t stalk on Facebook, where can they stalk?