This story was first forwarded to me by my brother and can be found at Squaredpeg.com which is a blog about higher ed recruitment. This afternoon the Chronicle of Higher Ed has picked up the story. Here is the gist of the story:
Company Created Official-Looking ‘Class of 2013’ Facebook Groups for Hundreds of Colleges
Anyone can create a Facebook group and make it appear to be something it’s not.
Brad J. Ward reminded admissions officials about that simple fact on Thursday after examining hundreds of “Class of 2013” groups that have popped up on the popular social-networking site. Typically, students who plan to enroll at a particular college create such groups to start communicating with their future classmates. Some colleges establish the groups or encourage admitted students to do so.
But Mr. Ward, coordinator for electronic communication in Butler University’s admissions office, found that dozens of the 2013 Facebook groups had been created — or were being maintained — by the same handful of people. Who were they?
On his blog, SquaredPeg.com, Mr. Ward wrote early this morning that, with the help of other admissions officials, he had traced several of the names to College Prowler, a Pittsburgh company that publishes student-written guidebooks about colleges and universities.
These folks are doing this so that they can eventually promote and advertise their own products and potentially others. Those in the group can still control the content, but it is a distasteful development. I usually prefer to allow students to create their own virtual community and I don’t believe that Prowler has yet created a group for the SHC Class of 2013, but I went ahead and created an “official” group. Just search for “Schreyer Honors College, Penn State – Class of 2013”