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Margin Notes

More fake “Class of…” Facebook groups discovered

These groups don't purport to be the official sites for their particular universities, but they are made to look that way.

BY LÉO CHARBONNEAU | NOV 18 2009

Matthew Melnyk, who sounded the alarm earlier this year on a handful of fake “Class of 2013” Facebook groups, reports that he has found a new crop of fake “Class of 2014” groups targeting students who’ll be entering university in September 2010. Matt is the electronic outreach liaison officer at Brock University.

I blogged on this back in June.

A bit of background: many high school students who are entering university in the fall sign up to legitimate Facebook groups created by fellow students for their particular freshman class. So, students who’ll be starting university in September 2010 might wish to sign up to the “University X Class of 2014” Facebook group, named for the year in which they’re scheduled to graduate.

Students can use these groups to get to know each other, share information and plan activities before they even set foot on campus. However, the fake “Class of” Facebook groups are set up by individuals with no connection to the university they pretend to represent.

The clue, says Matt in his most recent blog post, is that all of these new Facebook groups he’s uncovered are run by the same handful of people – likely marketers.

However, unlike the fake groups he uncovered previously, these new groups don’t purport to be the official sites for these particular universities, but they are made to look that way. “That is important to note, because the people running these groups are not blatantly misleading students as was being done before,” Matt says.

He continues:

As for what to do about these groups, I’m somewhat torn. For institutions like my own, where we have a dedication to having a large presence in social media, I think groups like this can be confusing for students. …

I can’t speak for other institutions, and whether or not they believe that these kinds of groups pose any significant risks for their students. Personally, I think they do. The people organizing these groups do not have the students’ interests at heart, and that is fundamentally problematic.

Matt has created a list of these new groups “to help my peers at other institutions to decide whether they should act to shut down these groups or not.” Here they are:

Wilfrid Laurier University: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=183483793456

Ryerson University: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=168713973006

University of Waterloo: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=190092413979

Durham College:  http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=172495116108

York University: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=171956292023

University of Guelph: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=167281194372

McMaster University: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=201222937924

University of Toronto: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=165605994308

George Brown College: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=168640469356

University of Toronto Scarborough: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=172315987566

University of Ontario Institute of Technology: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=324597180614

Brock University:  http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=175512327174

ABOUT LÉO CHARBONNEAU
Léo Charbonneau
Léo Charbonneau is the editor of University Affairs.
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