Like most young Canadians, Dan Trottier is on Facebook. With 140 million active members worldwide –more than 10 million in Canada alone — Facebook and other social networking sites are how friends today stay connected.
But unlike many of his peers, the 27-year-old Queen’s University PhD candidate understands such sites are also tools of surveillance. For his dissertation, due in 2010, Mr. Trottier is studying the connection between surveillance and social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace.
Universities scour social networking sites for evidence of residence keg parties, in violation of campus policies. Admissions officers use them to evaluate university-bound students. Police tap into them to investigate underage drinking and sexual activity. Companies check out Facebook to help with direct marketing campaigns. And increasingly, employers are using them to screen prospective employees.