Information Acquisition

Do you typically log on to Facebook looking for specific people or information or do you usually log on and wander or follow whatever strikes your fancy? (Do you actively [search] or passively [notice] inform yourself?) What do you learn from Facebook? Does it ever verify information? Do you ever ignore anything on Facebook?

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Respondent 2

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J: So, umb, do you get, is it important that those groups inform you of what they’re doing?  Like if there’s an event, do the groups send out events or do you hear about it mostly from friends around on Facebook?

I: Uh no, I’m pretty different I guess, I have a lot of older friends, and so upper classmen throw stuff and I might get invited, and you know how you can add friends to this event, so I end up sending it to other people.

J: We’ll get to that in a sec actually – but what do you learn from Facebook?  When you log on are you looking for an event like this or a phone number or something, or most of the time are you erratically bouncing around from one thing to another?

I: Yeah most of the time I go on there and if I don’t see anything then I just type in my friend’s names and start looking at their pictures, and then see another friend in their pictures and go to their page. And I just end up all over.

J: Okay so less like a mission and more like wherever.

I: Yeah this day, but when I had a boy friend it was different, but now I don’t care, but it used to be if they knew there’d be problems… [garbled story about girl friend who’s boy friend watched her too much.  I can’t hear it well enough to transcribe it but I remember the respondent talking about it, she spoke quietly]

J: So like gossip and stuff.  So does anything then ever become official once it’s on Facebook?

I: Oh it used to but it doesn’t, that’s another thing that changed in college.  Because like in high school people used to get upset with their boyfriends and girlfriends for not putting up their relationship status on Facebook but now in college it’s like a lot of people don’t want it on there, because once it’s on Facebook it’s drama attachment – everybody is gonna be on your page and be like ‘Is he with you or is she with you’ you know and ‘why where they here’ and people want to keep their business as private as they can, and it’s hard because the black community population here is so small so everybody don’t put it on Facebook.

Respondent 3

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J: Alright, so moving on a bit—what do you learn from Facebook?  When you log on, you’re confronted by the newsfeed.  Actually when you first joined there was no newsfeed, so when they added it what was your reaction?

I: I was kinda scared at first, because everybody knows what I’m doing now, it’s like open Facebook stalking.

J: What do you mean exactly when you say everybody?

I: The newsfeed goes on to that main page, of like what your friends are doing.  So even if you change one thing or add or move something it’s all up there, usually.

J: All things or just some things?

I: Just some things.

J: Did you start using the newfeed?

I: I usually, when the newsfeed comes up you can’t erase the newsfeed but you can erase some aspects of the newsfeed.  Like if I write something on some person’s wall I can go delete that so they can’t see what I’ve been doing.

J: So you hide your own activities then, but do you use the newsfeed to sort of guide your behavior on Facebook?

I: Not really.

J: So how do you learn things from Facebook?  Do you go to your best friends?

I: I go to the main page and see what my friends are doing.  I go through albums and see what people are doing.  I kinda also learn about what’s going on around campus.  I tend to miss what’s going on, and then like if something big happens, then everybody is on Facebook groups on that issue and I tend to learn about it.

J: So in general do you think you pick up information more passively, like noticing things here and there on the newsfeed and then looking at them randomly, or more actively, like you might log on looking for a specific piece of information like this person’s phone number and then go find that and log off?

I: I think more passively.


J: Ah, so another off-shoot question – does Facebook ever verify statuses?  Like when you put up your relationship status sometimes people consider it official. What about stuff like that?

I: Umb… especially the relationship status, yes and no actually.  If it’s a true relationship and you post it as a relationship, then that says you’re dating—you’re going out with that person.  But then the opposite case is if you’re actually dating this person and you put single on it, people would be like ‘why are you still single’ and umb some people choose to be funny and put their best friend as engaged.

J: Do you think that changes when people get to around my age?

I: Yeah, I think adults are more serious, but we’re in college so we can joke around.  I think it’s still pretty stupid actually.

J: Indicating you’re married to a best friend you mean?

I: Yeah.

J: I think it’s most common between two female friends as a joke.  But then there might also be same-sex relationships on Facebook.  How do you think this all works?

I: Well first of all, there are a lot of same-sex engagement and marriage because if it were the opposite sex people would take it as serious, but if it’s same-sex people would take you as joking.  I think girls do it more because they like to make more close relationships and intimate relationships.  I think guys think it’s more gay-ish.

J: So like homophobia and stuff?

I: Yeah.

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Respondent 4

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J: going back, what do you learn from Facebook? Is there anything that you specifically learn? I guess I’ll just ask broadly, what do you learn from Facebook?

I: I well the first thing that comes to mind are events in peoples lives like new relationships or relationships ending and things like that people that are talking to each other that you know that are friends like things like that and then a lot of, now, a lot more people are using Facebook to support their causes so you find about a news event that you want to uh if you don’t watch the news very often so more often they’ll be like, oh sign this petition for this injustice or so and so.

J: do you get a lot of connections to real world groups or events?

I: uh yeah, I, not a lot but I think…

J: supporting organizations I guess would be

I: um not necessarily organizations, I’d say real world efforts like fight cancer or no like join a group that to fight cancer or like free groups that war, things like that, so like stop world hunger sign this petition I get a lot of those groups.

J: on the note of what you’re learning, do you generally like I need to look up Susie’s phone number or is it more like log on and passively go about the place, “oh this person is friends with this person?”

I: mostly the second one I think I just kind of I don’t ever get home so like I know, I have to see what’s going on, it’s kind of like a boredom thing, like, it’s kind of sad that before oh like I’m kind of bored I should go like play baseball or something, but now it’s like I’m bored let’s watch TV and go on Facebook so if anything its because I’m bored and I cant figure like find anything else to do so it’s more passive like oh she put new pictures up and I’ll go check that out and then I’ll see some other friend tagged in it so like oh I wonder what she’s up to. But I do use it find people email addresses or phone numbers.

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Respondent 5

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J: Do you ever intentionally look things up?  Like people, or things?

I: Yeah, there are certain people I visit their Facebook page more than others.  My boy friend, my best friend, you know, like my other close girl friends, just to—I don’t know why.

J: SO you actively get information about someone else?

I: Yeah and you can find out other stuff too.

J: Do you more often seek out information specifically or are you more often just informed by participating randomly in Facebook?

I: I think just participating—I think in general—you just—and it’s easier because you can just go on Facebook and you can click write on my friend’s wall and write “Oh come over” and you don’t have to call her on the phone.  In a sense I like it because it’s quick and easy, but then in another way I don’t think it’s as good because then you don’t talk to them in person.


J: Can you think of good things or bad things that have come out of the newsfeed?

I: I don’t have any specific stories, but—it’s interesting, if I go to a friend’s page and I saw that she wrote on so-and-so’s page and I know what they’re talking about or something I’ll go to theirs and then comment on both of theirs.

J: So it helps to guide you?

I: Yeah, kind of, it’s a little creepy.


J: Okay, so moving on, how does Facebook come up with conversation?

I: It’s funny. Like me and my good friend here, I’ll like say something like “Oh I talked to so and so today” and one of us will respond “oh I already saw that on Facebook, been there, creeped that.”  We have certain phrases.

J: What are some of those?

I: Me and my friend we made up “Been there stalked that” like we already saw that, duh, it was on the newsfeed.  Or “you better tag me on that picture” like when you’re out and someone takes a picture of you—sometimes people will be like “you better tag me” or “don’t put that picture on Facebook”

J: Is it a critical news source in a sense? Like a newspaper almost?

I: Yeah, yeah it’s like you get a lot of information from it, just in general.

J: How is it characterized in conversation, like about Facebook or things related to it?

I: Just things related to it, people are like “oh yeah on Facebook…”

J: Just mentioning where you saw or find something?

I: Yeah, we never really have discussions about like Facebook.

J: So it’s a very common thing though?

I: Yeah.


J: Okay, moving to new questions, what do ignore on the system, anything specifically?

I: A lot of applications.  I ignore the gifts, people give you gifts, on Facebook, I ignore that.

J: If you get a gift, or even an invitation to something does it matter who makes the invite?

I: Yeah, if it’s someone I don’t even know and they say like “Oh they want you to slay them in the vampire game” I’ll hit ignore, but if it’s a legit group that I want to join that one of my friends made I’ll join it.

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Respondent 6

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J: So it’s an infrequent thing and you’re just there for a little bit?

I: Yeah, but except, it’s either I just check and I look and I’m done or sometimes I get caught up, you know?  I start looking at other things, and then it’s like an hour or so.

J: Ah, okay, so there’s the question of what you learn from Facebook.  It seems like there are a few ways to explore it, like going in for a specific piece of information or action, like to see an event invite, or then you could also login to following the newsfeed, floating with what grabs you—one thing leads to another, no active mission or orientation.  Which way do you think you follow more often?

I: Usually I just check quickly.  I don’t usually spend a lot of time on Facebook.  Especially now that they have video links, though, and news article links that are pretty easy to set up, you’ll slowly move from Facebook to YouTube—so you’ll spend some time on Facebook, and then some on YouTube, and then there you see all of the videos that are related.  You get caught up.


J: Cool, okay we’ll get to that later.  Going back to what you learn on Facebook.  I never really asked straight up – what do you learn on Facebook?

I: There’s nothing really specific.  I just use it to learn what’s happening with people or events.  I guess that’s the closest I could say, I don’t really get much useful information out of it, just to see what people are thinking or feeling.

J: Do you ignore or avoid anything specifically?

I: I don’t really look at a person’s relationship status or anything, that’s just not the type of person I am. Unless maybe if it’s someone I’m interested in I might check.  I avoid looking through people’s photos, because I just personally think that’s a little weird.  I don’t know why, I guess I’m not against people who do it, because it’s there to use, and they put it up there for people to see it, and they can untag when they want, but I just feel weird doing it.


J: Okay, so did you join before the newsfeed?


J: What was your take when that came?

I: I thought it was—made life kinda easier.  Like—or because you could just…easier maybe easier isn’t the right word, it’s a nice feature is what I’m trying to say.  Because you can just go to the main page and see what’s happening to people.  It’s also easier to get distracted if you see something.


J: So what about this notion of something becoming official when it’s listed on Facebook.  Like when a relationship status is listed on Facebook?

I: Yeah I think it’s kind of official because it’s for the public.  Official and not-secret are kind of the same thing.

J: Okay, so what if somebody did something that wasn’t truthful?

I: Yeah I’m married right now.

J: Yeah right, okay. So how does that work with the system?

I: As long as it’s pretty obviously you’re not actually married to them.   Well—it goes back to the invisible audience, they might not know, but I don’t really care what people I don’t know see, and I know that people who do see me, when they see I’m married to this girl, they see and know it’s a joke.  But at first it said I was dating her, and people really did get confused and I had to tell them “oh it’s just a joke” and so we changed it.

J: So if they were to see a relationship they’d believe it—if it matches the expectations of the person, you’d be okay with it.  So if you saw a professor who was married, you’d believe it?

I:  Yeah.

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Respondent 7

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J: Okay, so moving onwards.  We’ve talked about what you do on Facebook, but I’m also interested in what you learn on Facebook.  Not like today in math class we learned long division, I’m talking more like information-wise, what you learn about people.

I: You mean like our friends?

J: Yeah, from your friends, what’s going on in life, that sort of stuff.

I: I learn like a lot of things, I learn events they go to, based on pictures I’m seeing, like “Oh they want to that party” or they went home that weekend.  I read other people’s wall-to-wall sometimes just to see like their relationship.  You can kind of tell like how close friends are, based on their wall-to-wall and stuff.  It’s kind of obvious. I learn who’s really good friends with who based on their top friends and stuff.  I learn peoples’ heritage—they have this application called “My heritage” that says “I’m from these countries, but I’m born here.” So I learn like that, I learn what people’s birthdays are, what their home towns are, their religious views.

J: So a lot?

I: yeah a lot!

J: So do you think it’s more comparable to being in a place like a city or more like reading a newspaper?  Or neither?

I: Newspaper like gossip?

J: Sure, a social newspaper almost.

I: Yeah, like that. It would be kind of an online newspaper.

J: When you log on are you more active or passive – when you log on are you looking for a specific information or to do a certain thing, or do you log on and just explore around more often?

I: I go from thing to thing most of the time.  There are a few times I go on if I need to read something or need to make an event.  But sometimes I end up getting side-tracked and messaging and writing on people’s walls and end up making the event last.  But for the most part it’s just random.

J: Have you ever noticed—when a person gets into a school, college, they can then join that network.  And when they join that network it becomes official that they’re going to that school.  Are there any other things you notice that become official once on Facebook?

I: yeah, like under the interests – when they put things they’re part of, like for example I’m part of the African-Cultural Association, and I have that on my Facebook, and people read that and are like “oh she’s part of the ACA” and it’s pretty official.  Like people’s names.  People change their names a lot. I don’t know if that’s official, but it could be like their nickname, people that put like the first initial of their last name because they don’t want their name showing.

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Respondent 8

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J: Okay, so what do you learn from Facebook?

I: I learn what kind of stuff you don’t want to put for everyone’s eyes to see.

J: Well, besides all of the privacy stuff, what about social life, friends, stuff like that.

I: I don’t really take a lot out of Facebook.  I learn what all of my friends do and everything.  Umb, I like look at pictures so I guess I can learn about them through the pictures and everything, other than that Facebook is just communication.


J: So if you were to look at a person’s profile and see what groups they’re in, what might you learn from that?

I: You can learn their interests, you can see—lots of high schools have groups or something, yeah.


J: Okay, then in terms of the learning stuff.  Do you usually visit Facebook looking for a specific piece of information or do you just randomly go in and look around without a specific purpose or aim?

I: Like I said I usually check my email first and I get the notifications from Facebook, so if you see like you know, I got a message from so and so then I’ll go look at the message with the intent of writing them back, but it’s mostly random.

J: Does anything ever become official on Facebook?  Like when a relationship is listed online people sometimes consider it to be more official – how does verification work on Facebook?

I: Well the relationship statuses have a lot of different ones.  Like “It’s complicated” or in an “Open relationship”, so like usually if it’s in a relationship you can consider it something true, but if it’s like an open relationship, like with, usually it’s with another girl or someone who you know it’s their close friend or something, then it’s usually pushed to the side and I don’t believe it, but other than that I don’t think anything becomes official on Facebook.

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Respondent 9

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J: So what would you say you learn from Facebook? What kind of information would you say you get from Facebook?

I: … keeping track of friends, I guess, umb events…

J: So when you log on do you usually look for specific information like a phone number, or do you usually just browse from the newsfeed?

I: I usually start with the newsfeed and then events… or I’ll skim the through names of my list of closer friends.

J: Sometimes Facebook verifies bits of information, like when someone decides they are going to a given school their network affiliation verifies that they’re going. Can you think of any other things that become official once they’re on Facebook?

I: I’m not sure what you mean… maybe the friend thing. People think you’re friends because you’re Facebook friends.  Or like the UC Hip Hop thing, you’re officially part of the group just because you joined the Facebook group.

J: But if you never showed up to an event…

I: You wouldn’t have to participate or do anything, you’re just part of the group on Facbeook. I don’t think Facebook really makes things official.

J: But people think it does?

I: Some people.

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Respondent 10

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J: That kind of opens up a bigger question.  What do you generally learn from Facebook?

I: If I didn’t have Facebook I’d have no clue about what people from home are doing, so like I can basically like, when we come home from breaks and I’ll like know because I’ve seen pictures or like – I know what all of their friends look like.  I feel like it’s making it okay to be creepy.

J: How does that work?

I: Cause it’s like, you’ll like know if someone is in a relationship, what their school life is like, everything, and you might not even be good friends with them?

J: Is that expected?

I: It’s just known that people creep on Facebook. Like no one has a Facebook and doesn’t look at people.  Actually I have like two friends that just don’t care and they don’t really go on.

J: Is it kind of like the news, comparable to reading the newspaper?

I: I don’t know, no.


J: When you’re going around on Facebook do you normally log on with an intention, like say to find someone’s phone number? Or is it more random?

I: No, you just log on to see if you have any like—notifications, or inboxes or whatever.  But every once in a while I’ll send someone an inbox and I want to see what they sent back I’ll check, or my friends they might tag me in a picture I’ll check.

J: Do you ever meet someone in class and then want to go look them up?

I: No, I usually forget.  I think I’ve done that like twice.


J: I think I’m just about out of questions, you’ve guessed a lot before I asked.  Did you have any other stories to tell or anything?  On the whole you think Facebook is a good thing?

I: I’m a fan of it, I just wish there wasn’t so many like—it would be cool if all it was was albums… albums, pictures, and then your wall and inbox, I think that would be like perfect.

J: So it would be better if there were like fewer things on there.

I: Yeah and the newsfeed is creepy.

J: Well you mentioned before how you wouldn’t know how to navigate without the newsfeed.

I: Well I don’t think it would be as creepy of a thing, because you’d just look at your friends and you wouldn’t be really creepy and know when your friends broke up.

J: Okay, cool, that’s a wrap.