Facebook Prank Lands Man in Prison

February 7, 2008

Concerned that your fake Facebook profile got deleted? At least you did not end up in prison. As reported by CNN:

Moroccan authorities arrested an engineer Wednesday for allegedly stealing the identity of the king’s younger brother on the social networking Web site, Facebook, the state news agency said. Fouad Mourtada, 26, was arrested in Casablanca for “villainous practices” in connection with the theft of Prince Moulay Rachid’s identity, Maghreb Arabe Presse reported.

It’s a great day to be in America today.

Update: a website has been set up to campaign for Fouad Mourtada’s release.


Cornell Looks for New Ways to Address Mental Health Problems

December 28, 2007

Cornell’s initiative to curb its student suicide rate makes it into the pages of The Wall Street Journal:

After years in which many colleges have said privacy rules prevent them from interceding with troubled students, Cornell is taking the opposite tack. Its “alert team” of administrators, campus police and counselors meets weekly to compare notes on signs of student emotional problems. People across campus, from librarians to handymen, are trained to recognize potentially dangerous behavior. And starting this year, Cornell is taking advantage of a rarely used legal exception to student-privacy rights: It is assuming students are dependents of their parents, allowing the school to inform parents of concerns without students’ permission.

Notice the story slug: “safety school”. Good one, WSJ.

Cornell Blogs: The Next Generation

November 20, 2007

A year ago, Chronicle Online posted a story about the Life on the Hill project. In addition to highlighting the new University-sponsored student blogs, the article provided a comprehensive list of all Cornell blogs. Now that a year has passed, let’s revisit these blogs to see how they are doing now.

Student blogging project
Alex Payne ’09
Ben Crovella ’07: inactive
Caroline Dias ’08
Jennifer Lin ’09
Jenna Bromberg ’08
Nikki Gusz ’08

Other student blogs
Charlotte Acharya, Grad: almost exclusively baby pictures
Elliott Back ’06: no more breaking Cornell news
Christian Montoya ’07: inactive, old content gone
Stephen Miller: inactive, old content gone
Erica Mallare ’08: inactive
Shane Murphy, Grad: old content gone, farewell note remains
Claudia Rodriguez ’08: now a wedding blog
Dean Strelau: inactive, old content gone
Center for Jewish Living student residence: inactive
President of Facebook: Cornell-related posts are just follow-ups
AdmitSpit — Polina Minkin ’10 contributes to this nationwide group blog on admissions and academics: inactive

Semi-anonymous freshman blogs
Bungee Jump: inactive
Cornell Days: inactive
Karma Moths: one post in the last two months
Wasting Forty Grand: inactive

General Cornell blogs
Overheard at Cornell: two posts in the last two months
– Livejournal message boards http://community.livejournal.com/cornell/ and http://community.livejournal.com/cornell_u/: not exactly blogs to begin with
MetaEzra — a group blog by Matthew Nagowski ’05, Andy Guess ’05 and Marc Zawel ’04: slowly becoming less Cornell-related

Ivy League-wide blogs
IvyGate: pumping out multiple posts on most days
IvyLeak: inactive, old content gone

Although some of these remain active, most aren’t, especially when accounting for the Life on the Hill blogs which are expected to meet a certain quota. According to BusinessWeek, “after 3 months on average, most bloggers realize that writing about their politics, launch haunts, or co-workers isn’t for them”. That makes sense based on what we see above. However, the same post says “we’re still seeing growth in the blogosphere”. It appears the same cannot be said for the Cornell blogosphere.

There have been virtually no new players during the last year. There are three new Life on the Hill blogs: Alex Cain ’10, Matt Hintsa ’10, and Joe McCourt ’10. Cornell Abroad came out with its own version called Voices from Cornell Abroad, a group blog by three students studying overseas. Engineering Admissions has several blogs as well (why they are hosted on Blogger is beyond me).

So far, all of these are Cornell-sponsored endeavors. As far as independent blogs go, the offering are slim. OTR, a network of college-oriented blogs, launched Cornell OTR. Despite high activity last summer, there hasn’t been a post in the last month. There is also CornellNewsWatch, but that is news aggregator rather than a blog. It does provide additional exposure to the few remaining Cornell blogs in an easy-to-digest format, so it deserves a mention for that.

Are these the last days of blogging at Cornell? They very well could be.

Lehman Keeps Presidential Compensation After Stepping Down

November 13, 2007

It is mid-November, time for The Chronicle of Higher Education to release executive compensation numbers. The Cornell Daily Sun article sums up the relevant info nicely:

After stepping down as Cornell’s 11th president, Jeffrey S. Lehman ’77, who left office under controversial circumstances, was compensated $785,518 for the 2005-06 fiscal year — over $75,000 more than then-Interim President Hunter R. Rawlings III. … Lehman’s post-job compensation in 2005-06 was more than all the Ivy presidents, except Yale University President Richard Levin, who earned $869,026.

As you may remember, Lehman made over $1 million in 2004-05, the most in the Ivy League. Rawlings took over as the president on July 1, 2005.

New Bill Addresses File Sharing on College Campuses

November 13, 2007

Elliott Back recently posted a blog entry dealing with file sharing at Cornell. He was extremely concerned with how the administration handles takedown notices:

Cornell is able to block copyright holders from identifying alleged music pirates by filing a motion to block or quash the subpoena. Cornell also could, like Professor Charles Nesson at Harvard, actively refuse to help the RIAA’s police mission. … the purpose of a University is to teach, not enforce an archaic notion of copyright.

Well, it appears colleges are about to encounter additional scrutiny stemming from P2P traffic issues. Ars Technica:

A massive education bill (747-page PDF) introduced into Congress contains a provision that would force colleges and universities to offer “technology-based deterrents” to file-sharing under the pain of losing all federal financial aid. Section 494 of the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007 is entitled “Campus-Based Digital Theft Prevention” that could have just as easily been called “Motion Picture and Recording Industry Subsidies,” as it could force schools into signing up for subscription-based services like Napster and Rhapsody.

Facebook Terms of Service Do Not Apply to All

October 31, 2007

Facebook Terms of Service specifically state that no user may “impersonate any person or entity, or falsely state or otherwise misrepresent yourself, your age or your affiliation with any person or entity”. Regular readers should know this blog is already familiar with this policy (see here, here, or here).

Well, it appears certain people are above the law. Sean Parker is an early employee and a major shareholder. He is also a member of numerous networks:

It appears he graduated from Columbia, Sarah Lawrence, Pepperdine, USC, UCLA, UC Berkeley, New York University, and Stanford. All in 2002. He is also in four regional networks while regular users are limited to one.

Via Valleywag.

Facebook Employees Check Which Profiles You View

October 28, 2007

Over a year ago, a piece of source code was leaked revealing that Facebook is tracking who views any profile. The information was posted on someone’s personal website, so its credibility was questionable.

Now there are additional reports that this really is the case. Valleywag reports:

Turns out Facebook employees can (and do) check out anyone’s profile. Not only that, but they also see which profiles a user has viewed — a major privacy violation. If you’ve been obsessed with a workmate or classmate, Facebook employees know. If Barack Obama’s intern has been using the campaign account to troll for hotties, Facebook employees know. Within the company, it’s considered a job perk, and employees check this data for fun.

It is not especially surprising that employees of a company have access to the data stored by that company. More shocking is that the profiles views are secretly monitored and the records are easily accessible by anyone at Facebook.