So you probably saw the rounds of Facebook spam over the last few days: “Who has viewed your profile?” While that explosion has ensnared many good people, there are other traps that are much less obvious. The Class of 2015 is caught in one such Facebook scheme right now. Just check out the Middlebury College Class of 2015 Facebook Group. This is a place where many prospective students will debate their future at Middlebury. The top post right now is, “I’m definitely having a hard time deciding…PLEASE HELP ME REMEMBER why I should be a Middkid 🙂 [I’d really appreciate the help :D]” Many others in that group are getting to know one another having already committed to Midd. “Who is our unicyclist?!?,” asks one new Midd student. Over 400 students are actively using the group. And that number will grow as these admitted students grow closer to matriculation in the Fall.
But do you see something amiss? The page was not started by a prospective student nor a current student nor the College. It was started by Roomsurf.com, a college roommate matching program. Of course Middlebury freshmen don’t choose their own roommates, but that doesn’t stop the company from starting Class of 2015 groups for tons of colleges around the country as a way to promote their own website. In fact, this has happened before (see fake 2014, real 2014), and Roomsurf.com has already been pestered enough by complaints to include the disclaimer in the information that it is the official page.
Even with a good hearty disclaimer, why has 2015 flocked to this group?Because there was no other existing option. And by the time the majority of the class had searched Facebook for “Middlebury 2015,” there were already enough people in the group to make starting a new page difficult. Some would say that it is no big deal. Roomsurf.com does not “own” the page because they left the page with no administrator. But that does not mean they have stopped advertising. The reason why it makes sense for Roomsurf.com to do this is because they can post to the Facebook wall with posts like this…
But there is also another downside that many don’t think about: a Facebook group for a class stays with that class for a long time. First, you join as an admitted student. That group then turns into a place for orientation materials to be disseminated (in addition to your Midd email) in August and then the group sits a little dormant while you’re at Midd for four years. But then, come around Senior year, the group takes on a new meaning because all of a sudden, the group will be the central contact point for alumni-related activities which start with events like 100 days party and senior week. When you actually do graduate, that Facebook group again sticks around as a place to reach a lot of people in your class. Example: the Class of 2011 which is filled with plugs for senior week right now. Maybe Facebook groups won’t be of any interest to anyone come the year 2015 and the longevity of the group won’t matter. But until then, the incoming class of 2015 will deal with the spam – not a huge problem, but pesky nonetheless.
UPDATE 4/27: After some discussion among 2015-ers, it looks like CC Connard created an “official” Facebook group for the class and is gathering support for the 400+ students to move to the new group which is a closed Facebook group.