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:
- Dealing with Fake Facebook Groups – by Michael Fienen of .eduGuru
- Facebook, Trust and RoomSurf.com – by Georgy Cohen
- Coming together: Colleges unite to fight Facebook fraud – by Tim Nekritz
- Facebook Class of 2015 Groups: Deja Vu All Over Again – by Lori Packer
- Three years of Facebook Forgery – by J.D. Ross