Last Sunday I blogged about Futurebook, a social network built by the the Norwegian Armed Forces to recruit 17-year olds. Futurebook added 60,000 17-year olds to the site without asking for their permission, and most of the information on the site was fake. According to an article in Digi.no, it cost the Army 285,000 NOK (50,000 USD) to build the site.
Digi.no asked a spokesperson at the Army why they did not use existing social networks.
– The reason we built the campaign site was to be able to control the information. At our site, the members cannot publish information. The only thing they can do is ask questions about the Army, said Trine Jungeling.
That sounds like a completely backhanded approach to the whole idea of a social network, which in my view is to let members interact and co-create content. In other words, the complete opposite of being in control.
Futurebook has created a lot of negative reactions and the latest kerfuffle revolves around the fact that some 17-year olds have been greeted by nude photos when they logged on to the site. On Pia Mari Aune’s wall, photos of naked men had been posted (see photo at VG.no) displaying their rear ends as they walk through a forest.
– If they wanted me to spend a year in the army before my studies, they failed, she said.
But Per-Ivar Norman, chief-of-staff at Vernpliktsverket, the National Service Administration, defends the pictures.
– The pictures show an activity that may happen when you are out practicing. To take your clothes off may be needed in situations where you for instance have to walk in water or mud. It is a way to practice.
That may very well be the case, but was it necessary to post photos of men’s butts on a 17-year old girl’s profile page? As seen in the article on VG.no, there are also topless photos of girls on Futurebook. The reason for these photos is quite unclear.
The site will be reviewed by Datatilsynet, the Data Inspection Board in Norway, which said that the approach to add young people to the site without their permission and then populate their friends lists with real people, with real birth data, was disrespectful. Datatilsynet even said that there is a real threat they could close the site down.
I find it quite ironic that the Army wanted to control the information on the site, perhaps so that none of the teenagers posted offending photos (?), and then they are the ones that add photos of nude butts. Bizarro world, anyone?