Poking around [thefacebook]

By Rocio Lopez

Thanks to features on the popular college-student-geared Web site www.thefacebook.com, students can “poke” and instant message complete strangers.

Facebook groups such as “I now have a stalker, but I’m still on Facebook,” and “Don’t use Facebook to hit on me … ya damn freak! (NIU Chapter)” poke fun at instances in which a student is tracked down by someone he or she has never met.

Senior marketing major Karen Baranski has been instant messaged by a stranger through Facebook.

“I really didn’t do anything about it,” she said, ” I talked to him for a little bit and then never again.”

Some students do not like the idea of posting their phone numbers and having random people call them. Baranski removed her cell phone number from her profile.

Senior marketing major John Hemm thinks posting contact information on Facebook is weird.

“I don’t put my number because I don’t want random people calling [me],” Hemm said.

Information about other people can be gathered without much effort, University Police Lt. Matt Kiederlen said.

“You have to be guarded with the information [posted],” he said. UP has not had any complaints of stalking involving strangers.

“We’ve had situations that have revolved around long-term relationships,” Kiederlen said. “I cannot recall one of a stranger-type infatuation.”

Some students know how easy it is to contact fellow members on Facebook.

Jamere Price Jr., a senior general studies major and founder of the “I now have a stalker, but I’m still on Facebook” group, was contacted as a joke by one of his friends.

“It’s easy to hit on someone on Facebook: all you do is type and click,” he said.

Members of Facebook can customize their privacy options by selecting what group of people can contact them and browse their profiles. Also, Facebook profiles are only visible to students, faculty and staff in the same university, or those registered on the Web site as friends.