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Facebook 'spying' controversy

18 Jul 2007

Facebook 'spying' controversy Students expressed outrage this week, claiming university authorities were using Facebook to spy on them.

Oxford University chiefs were accused of using photos on the social networking site as evidence to haul students up on disciplinary matters.

Martin McCluskey, president of the Oxford University Student Union, emailed students to warn them and advise on the best form of defence against such 'spying'.

He warned: "It has been brought to the attention of the Student Union that the Proctors have been using evidence gathered from Facebook for disciplinary matters.

"Specifically, photos from post-exam celebrations on Merton Street have been sent to members of the university (including those already finished) as evidence of their being involved in 'trashings'.

"As such, we advise those of you with Facebook accounts to alter your privacy settings on Facebook to prohibit members of staff and faculty from viewing your profile and photographs."

An Oxford University spokesman stood by the action, saying that staff were looking at Facebook pages which were accessible to anyone on the Oxford network.

He continued: "Over recent weeks the university proctors have received numerous complaints from university staff and members of the public about a significant minority of students taking part in anti-social behaviour that seriously affected those who live and work in the city of Oxford.

"Given these concerns, the proctors wish to take the steps available to them to identify and discipline the culprits."

Previous research has indicated that many employers research applicants' histories online - using search engines and social networking sites to dig up any material that might deem them 'unemployable'.

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