June 18, 2007 by Colin
Well, the Ottawa Citizen is breaking new ground with its monitoring of Facebook profiles. Not only can social networks be helpful in drawing up an initial impression of a possible murder suspect, but a simple update on a Facebook profile can make for valuable additional column inches on a story that’s a little slow to develop.
Today, the Citizen ran a story on the front of the City section detailing how someone had changed the young man’s Facebook profile early on Saturday morning.
“…But Saturday morning, at 2:11 a.m., the online profile that Mr. Howard maintained on the social networking website, Facebook, changed. Under the category of “relationship status,” the profile was updated from “single” to “in a relationship.” He named an 18-year-old Ottawa woman as the person he was dating.
The woman, who says in her profile that she works at an Ottawa submarine sandwich shop, is more vague about her relationship status.
“In a relationship and it’s complicated,” her profile says…”
Monitoring Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites can often prove valuable for journalists (and identity theft specialists).
Still, I have to question whether a profile update is valuable enough to report – especially without more details.
In effect, the Citizen article was implying that the Facebook update may be related to the murder investigation. And maybe it is – if this case develops into something more complex, possibly involving the girlfriend.
At what point to disparate pieces of information become facts worthy of reporting in traditional media? Should a person’s online persona only be evaluated as a complete package with dozens, hundreds or thousands of online hints, notes, and facts?
Or can our online identities be broken down into individual actions and impressions?
I sure hope no-one is characterizing me by taking note of my Facebook status updates – they’re nonsense.
[tags] Facebook, MySpace [/tags]