All entries for Tuesday 30 June 2009

June 30, 2009 and facebook freshers groups

You may be aware of a scandal that hit the US last year – facebookgate – an investigation co-ordinated by the excellent Brad Ward.


looks like the UK is not immune to this either.

We became aware of a growing number of facebook groups claiming to be ‘official freshers groups’ for Warwick Uni. This seemed odd as the owners had nothing to do with us.

A bit of detective work lead us to find a few common threads – thanks go to John Waller for helping with this BTW!

Firstly – many of these groups repeated content lifted from the Leeds University Union freshers guide.

Secondly – many of these groups had a discussion post or similar advising students to register for

This site is an extremely dodgy one , recommending a series of schemes and grey area activities that students can use to generate cash. At it’s heart is a referral scheme that pays reps money for recruiting other students. A quick google search confirmed misgivings and revealed a comment on a Brian Kelly post that confirmed suspicions – comment 2

A bit of extra work revealed similar groups for Birmingham Uni, London Unis, Leeds, Bath, Manchester and no doubt there are many others.

My concern about this is not that anyone can create these – that’s the fun of Facebook – but that students are going to get caught out by a site that ends up causing them grief.

The other issue here is of course the degree to which students signing up to these groups are providing access to personal data that they may not wish to share with what is essentially a marketing programme.

Also noticed that in many instances the admins that are set up for these are xxxx uni or xxxx university – so in that sense the process is seeking to actually hide the fact of who is really setting these up.

A quick search for some common text reveals a small part of the problem

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