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Facebook Popularity Soars

Facebook is all the rage, according to Web traffic numbers that were released by Comscore this week.

The number of unique visitors rose 89 percent in May, compared to the same month a year earlier, a result largely attributed to the opening of the site to anyone, not just students, back in September. Prior to the change, Facebook had been attracting about 14 million unique visitors every month. Now, the site is seeing about 26.6 million unique monthly visitors. And the visitors are spending more time on the site, averaging about 186 minutes per month, compared to 138 last year. Finally, the number of registered users ages 25-34 saw a 181 percent jump year-over-year.

So where's the downside? The folks over at the DigitalPhocus blog, which chats about the business of the Web, raised the issue of choosing between friends and colleagues on Facebook in an posting the other day. It made me stop and think... Linked In, a popular social networking sites for professionals is the preferred place to network with colleagues and business associates. MySpace has long been the site for friends and family. But Facebook blurs the line - you've got bosses, work friends and business contacts as well as your poker buddies, your neighbors and distant cousins all connected on Facebook.

Do you really want your business contacts flipping through the photo gallery of pics from Spring Break in Mexico? Is this even a problem? What do you think?

By Sam Diaz  |  July 6, 2007; 1:47 PM ET  | Category:  Sam Diaz
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

I think that you should spend more than 30 seconds on Facebook before wondering aloud if users really want their business contacts having the ability to view more personal info. The privacy setting on Facebook allow you to choose who sees what. It must be nice to be a so-called expert for the Washington Post while not having a clue as to what you are talking about.

Posted by: Steve Abendroth | July 6, 2007 5:00 PM

I'm sure many people don't know about the privacy feature. There is a good percentage out there that don't explore the features on a site too deeply. And although there is this feature, Diaz still has good point. You still run the risk of exposing very personal information that, although may be appropriate for close friends and family, are not suitable for business-related viewers.

Posted by: Andrew Kuo | July 9, 2007 1:01 PM

I think there is a mutual understanding that users of Facebook have agreed upon. Everything is done within a friendly context and environment. Choose your friends carefully and don't allow non-friends access to your profile. And for friends who hold positions of authority...

What happens on facebook, stays on facebook.

Posted by: J-Mart | July 10, 2007 3:14 PM

J-Mart: Except that that "mutual understanding" you speak of is very rarely ever held.

I know several people who have gotten turned down for jobs because their employers saw their Facebook pages and didn't like some of the things seen there. Granted these were extreme cases, but the cases exist.

The notion of everything being in a friendly context and environment is good, but not very easily attained. There will always be people who take every medium available seriously.

After working in User Services for various IT departments in the past few years, I've noticed the amount of actually tech-savvy people out there, is very low. Many don't think to manage privacy settings when they create their accounts, and continue not thinking about it until a situation arises, but it only takes once to throw someone's opinion forever.

I've had my Facebook account for almost 3 years now so I don't know what current practices are, but when I signed up it didn't flash anywhere, "Change your privacy settings here so that not everyone has full access to your personal information!" (Insert link or something pointing to privacy settings page.) Being slightly tech-savvy I knew that privacy would be an issue on such a medium so I went looking for them myself and have been fine so far. But like I said, not everyone thinks about privacy becoming an issue, even today when you hear about it so much, a lot of people think, "It'll never happen to me" for various reasons.

Posted by: Kevin | July 19, 2007 12:07 PM

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