Facebookgate all over again?

Two years ago, Brad J. Ward uncovered a scheme on Facebook involving a company called College Prowler, which was creating unofficial college and university groups in a shady fashion. Enlisting the help of several other higher ed web/marketing folks, Brad exposed College Prowler’s shenanigans to the media and the company quickly backed off. (I summarized the series of events in a post dubbed Facebookgate.)

A year later, Brad was blogging about a similar situation, this time with a company called URoomSurf. This company created a lot of “Class of 2014” groups on Facebook last year, targeting unsuspecting incoming college freshmen by offering to help them find roommates for a fee. The problem was the way the company portrayed itself — as being, in essence, an extension of colleges and universities. This year, that same company — renamed RoomSurf — appears to be doing the same thing with “Class of 2015” groups on Facebook.

The New York Times’ higher ed writer Jacques Steinberg picked up the story yesterday. (You may know Steinberg as the curator of NYT’s college admissions blog The Choice, which I talked about here last spring). Steinberg does a good job layout out the issue. I suggest you read it and pass it along to your campus admissions staff and Facebook administrators.

Thanks to the work of Lougan Bishop, Tim Nekritz and J.D. Ross, several of us in higher ed have agreed to get the word out about these shady marketing practices. Whether our efforts will put an end to deceptive marketing practices on Facebook is uncertain. But at least we can sound the warning for others.

Other posts on this topic:

P.S. – If you’d like to follow the discussion about this on Twitter, check the hashtags #fbgate2015 and #fbgate15.

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Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

2 thoughts on “Facebookgate all over again?”

  1. I appreciate your comments with regard to the practices being employed on Facebook by some to attract students to use their service. I wanted touch base with your group to let you all know of an alternative that is operating in an ethical manner. We provide roommate matching for students. http://www.goingpotluck.com is just getting started and if you would like to provide an alternative solution may I suggest that you touch base with us so that we can join in the fight against this type of non-sense. We would like to help and we are looking for some creative ideas and from as many directions as possible to spread the word and build awareness. Thanks

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