Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The Beginning

A little while ago, I got into a discussion with my cousin about the many seemingly pointless groups that can be found on Facebook these days. These groups range from the "Cute Animal Pictures" groups to the more aggressive "Click 'Like' if you hate rapists" type groups. As an avid Facebook user, my news feed can often be taken up my friends liking these pages, or the pictures and campaigns contained within. In general, I ignore them, but I have had occasion previously to like a picture posted by some of these groups.

My cousin and I's discussion, albeit brief, got me thinking about the real purpose behind these groups. During the discussion, I pointed out that many of these groups may be set up with the sole intention of harvesting email addresses which can then be sold to marketing companies.

Having thought about this further, I wonder now whether this is entirely accurate or whether it is merely my cynicism that leads me to believe such a thing to be true. It is for this reason that I am setting up both this blog and the underlying experiment.

The Experiment
So, what is the experiment? Well, I am going to set up a new Facebook account with a new email address. The email address will be used solely for Facebook and will not be given out to anybody else. The purpose of the experiment is to see just how much unsolicited email I get through the new account.

For sake of balance, I will also set up two further email addresses. The first will be for the purpose of creating a Twitter account, since my real email address, through which I receive most of my junk email has both Facebook and Twitter accounts attached to it.

The third email account that will be created will be the control account. This will just be an email address and will not be used for anything at all.

The rules

  • The Facebook account will have no friends
  • All accounts will be set up with fake names but will closely match my personal accounts by way of age, sex, religion, etc.
  • Both the Facebook and Twitter accounts will have status updates at least twice daily
  • The Facebook account will also like at least two pictures, groups or pages daily
  • The pages that the Facebook account will like are restricted to *nice* pages. I will steer clear of the nastier subjects as, quite frankly, life's too short! Depending how the experiment goes, this may change
  • On Twitter, I will follow anyone who follows or retweets me except where I believe that the account is an obvious spam-bot.
Some of these rules may change over the course of the experiment depending on how the experiment goes. At the moment, there is no real end date for the experiment, so we will see how things go.

So with that, let the experiment begin!

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