My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder/president of Data & Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

Relevant links:

Archive

Friendster’s plethora of high school students

Recently, i’ve been getting lots of SMS-style emails from people about Friendster. Usually, this means that they’re teens. So, i went in and did a search in Friendster for ages 61-71 in California with pictures within 3 degrees. Almost 1000 hits. Doing the same search in Singapore, i found over 600 hits. All teens.

They’re all underage (and it seems as though the most popular age to choose these days is 69). What surprises me is the emergence of Fakester High Schools (in order to collect all of those from the same HS). I’m stunned that Friendster was so vigilant in going after Fakesters because it was ruining search and they weren’t viable customers, but they ignore the Fakesters that could open them up to hefty legal suits.

I also got a great report from Singapore that students are creating images of their HS teachers to write testimonials about how horrible they are. Looking at a few of them, interests include things like “Shouting at ppl, Confiscating balls especially soccer balls, Catch students who are late for school.” Testimonials include things like “_|_ u sux! may ur dick not be wif u!”

A quick perusal of Friendster produced more Fakesters than i saw in the Fakester hayday. I find it utterly ironic – fakesters and teens everywhere and the early adopters are no longer participating. It seems as though their efforts to configure the users didn’t work so well. (Of course, today’s apathy is easy to explain… the Fakesters and teens aren’t nearly as visible to the friends and FoF of those in the Valley as they were 9 months ago.)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

12 comments to Friendster’s plethora of high school students

  • megan

    hi danah, i had also noticed this in a group of students in new york city who, when looking through their testimonials, were obviously 14 and 15 years old (which could be ascertained from their birthday parties, driver’s permits, etc). i reported a few of them to friendster, because there was some disturbing stuff going on that they wrote about quite publicly. not a word from friendster about this. and as you discovered, they’re almost all “60+” and especially “69” for their ages, which allows them to bypass the 18+ requirement – no age verification on friendster. i agree about the liability issue, which includes a pretty serious privacy issue and minor-protection issue, as well – friendster would be well advised to address this issue, from a legal standpoint if nothing else.

  • Friendster’s plethora of high school students

    Recently, i’ve been getting lots of SMS-style emails from people about Friendster. Usually, this means that they’re teens. So, i went in and did a search in Friendster for ages 61-71 in California with pictures within 3 degrees. Almost 1000…

  • Tony

    One thing I’ve always known,is no matter the original purpose,things take on their own life and grow and grow-don’t bother trying to stop it(tidal waves are hard to catch or stop).

  • Scott M

    I understand the potential apathy, but it makes me think they aren’t bothering to check out their own demographics from time to time. Even if someone checking wasn’t clued into age=69, they would still see an odd spike of “seniors” at the far end.

    I bet they have been advised that having “You must be eighteen or over to register as a member of Friendster or use the Web site” in their ToS will cover them. The theory is that if someone lies about their age, they violated the contract and Friendster isn’t liable. The irony is that (generally) people under 18 aren’t allowed to enter into contracts which means Friendster could be liable.

    I’m not a lawyer. I just happen to be in the middle of sorting through how to include teen voices in the online space I facilitate while protecting my foundation from liability issues.

  • if the members are under 13, friendster would be liable under COPPA (well, one of those damned acronyms :-).

  • Jon

    Or they could move the hosting server to Baghdad…

  • (Of course, today’s apathy is easy to explain… the Fakesters and teens aren’t nearly as visible to the friends and FoF of those in the Valley as they were 9 months ago.)

    Could someone tell me why this is? I’m too far outside this scene simply to get it. All my friends are on MySpace, I don’t know anybody who uses Friendster.

  • Friendster Teens and Elderly

    According to Danah Boyd, underage teens are signing up on Friendster as people in their 60’s. Let’s be clear about this. What does underage mean? Under 18? Under 21? The assumption is that someone is underage is they can’t be dated? However,…

  • Chris

    At this point, if teens and other “fakesters” want to deal with the slowness of friendster then let them. Of course, it’s obvious that the fakesters would be “69”, and Friendster would simply be retarded for not dealing with the issue. Besides, most people I know have switched to MySpace, whose community consists of more active members anyways.

  • Gina

    “Shouting at ppl, Confiscating balls especially soccer balls, Catch students who are late for school.”
    So how can we expect students to be nice if teachers are a really bad example?

  • The point is that there is a problem… and the problem seems to me very serious…
    and I suppose that the problem is not easy to solve, since there are lots of other examples when the Internet allows people to pose themselves as those who they really are not…
    and not only teens!