Nell Frizzell | Contributing Writer | Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Facebook Has Found New Ways To Enable Our Creepy Stalking

Facebook Has Found New Ways To Enable Our Creepy Stalking

The Debrief: Are these latest notifications a step too far?

As a modern woman who spends the majority of her life sitting in front of a screen, feeling what the BBFC would describe as ‘mild sexual themes,’ I have been known to be a tiny bit creepy on Facebook.

Nothing untoward, I hasten to add. Just looking at people’s photos. Quite a few photos. OK, all their photos; my finger one-accidental click away from liking a profile photo from 2007.  But that’s as far as it goes.

Until today, that is, when Facebook sent me this notification: ‘[name redacted] is attending an event near you later today.’ No Facebook. No.

Firstly, the event was in Liverpool. Which is roughly 200 miles from where I will be later today. Even I draw the line at a five-hour coach journey just to ‘accidentally’ run in to someone ‘by chance’ at an event. Like the worst kind of supply teacher, Facebook had proved itself geographically inaccurate and poorly-informed.

But also, Facebook, isn’t that just a little creepy? To enable someone’s attempts to appear casually omnipresent? To literally guide them everywhere some poor sod turns? To give us unsolicited updates on a person’s whereabouts? To make it that little bit easier to track them down and follow them about? 

Because I would. Give me a couple more weeks and a swing of hormones and I will find it very difficult to resist that kind of temptation. I’ll become the woman who just ‘happens’ to be walking passed a bar at 5.30pm dressed like Tina Turner in Beyond The Thunderdome (my go-to seduction outfit) hoping to bump into someone whose 2012 holiday photos she was staring at last night. It could happen. And I really don’t want it to.

Aside from the fact that such notifications normalise not just Facebook stalking but actual stalking, they are also an unwelcome way to find out that you’ve not been invited to things. Oh look, you think, four of my friends are all at a film screening in my neighbourhood and not a single person asked me if I’d like to come? Or, how lovely, the three people you had lunch with last week are all now at a bar celebrating someone’s birthday, while you sit at home and sort your washing into white and colours.

It’s enough to make you want to delete your profile. Except, if you try, Facebook will collate some horrendous funereal montage of Facebook ‘friends’ with little messages about how they’ll all miss you. Sweet beetlenuts, is this really how far we’ve come? Have we really made it so easy to be manipulated, cajoled, tempted and retained?

I mean, the answer’s yes. Facebook is nothing more than what we deserve – we made it, gave it our data, used it to store our memories, talked to our friends through it, identified our relatives with it, organised our birthdays through it, uploaded our holiday photos to it and spent too many hours satiating our absent-minded mid-afternoon lust by scrolling through people’s profiles on it.

All it’s doing is responding to our desire, in order to turn a profit.

I just wish it didn’t make me feel like such a creep.

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Follow Nell on Twitter: @NellFrizzell

Tags: Facebook et al