Last week Dr Peter Anthony Linehan, dean of one of St John’s College, Cambridge was caught out by his students when he created a Facebook profile to do a bit of his own detective work on his student’s behaviour.

Since the 1st October 2008, the university has limited the amount of wine which students could take to dining halls from the usual bottle of wine to two glasses. This led to the creation of the Facebook group ‘St John’s has banned us taking wine to the hall’.

Dr Linehan was suspected to be his alter ego ‘Pedro Amigo’ after it was revealed that the most outspoken students of the group who he felt ‘had gone too far’ were mysteriously called to his office to be disciplined. Another student came up with the idea of typing in Dr. Linehan’s email into the friend finder to uncover the identity of this mystery man, which led to the sudden disappearance of Señor Amigo from Facebook. Rosanna Daws a second year classics student commented

“I wouldn’t have minded if he had used his real name but using a false name is a bit stupid.”

Dr. Linehan denied these outrageous claims saying they were “baseless” and “if a Dean of John’s wanted to gain information on the student body, he would be wise not to use a forum as public as Facebook to do so”.

However his spokeswoman later defended his actions which she believed were necessary “in order to investigate a complaint about an offensive remark reportedly published on Facebook,” and “as a Dean of Discipline, Dr Linehan is required to investigate allegations of misbehaviour by junior members of St John’s College.”

‘Dr Linehan was suspected to be his alter ego ‘Pedro Amigo’ after it was revealed that the most outspoken students of the group […]were mysteriously called to his office to be disciplined.’

He allegedly used “a pseudonym because he did not want people searching for his writing on the Internet, only to find a Facebook account.” Nevertheless, St. John’s students are said to feel “spied on” and violated by this intrusion.

Facebook’s increasing popularity has resulted in a vast network of social interaction spanning across the globe – more than 120 million people use Facebook worldwide. At the same time it has been criticised for lending itself to privacy violations. In a recent poll, it was found that in a survey of 600 businesses that 1 in 5 vetted potential applicants using Facebook. Photographic evidence of vandalism found on Facebook by the University of Oxford lead to the identification of students engaging in post-examination celebrations including ‘fluid spraying’ and ‘egg hurling.’ The reports suggest that Facebook can easily become a tool for privacy invasion rather than social networking, a knowledge many students and employees are now coming to terms with.

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