'Facebookgate' unraveled by a couple college recruiters

Facebook's incredible growth is proving irresistible for some unsavory marketing.

In what was dubbed last week as "Facebookgate," a college guide may have used Facebook Groups, fake accounts, and "savvy understanding of some behavioral dynamics inside Facebook," the blog Inside Facebook said, to build a mailing list for the nation's college class of 2013.

This story is being reported on college recruiting and social networking blogs and in the education trade press, but not yet in newspapers and the AP wire. It came to light, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, when Winthrop University's director of recruitment, Michelle Lynch Clevenger, noticed an odd "class of 2013" for her school and contacted Brad Ward at Butler University, known in the college recruiting field as an expert on social networking.

Ward uncovered dozens of similarly suspicious "class of 2013" groups on Facebook and raised an alarm in a blog post with his findings. That seems to have resulted in the company CEO saying its marketing program crossed the line and would be shut down, but still ...

As a parent of a child who hopefully will be in the college graduating of class of 2013 -- at Winthrop, no less -- I'm glad Clevenger and Ward blew the whistle.

How fast is Facebook growing? Dizzyingly.

Facebook's growth has gone from 300,000 to 400,000 active users per day in the fourth quarter to 600,000 to perhaps 700,000 a day in December, according to estimates from Justin Smith at Inside Facebook.

Most of the growth is happening outside the U.S.

Smith also posted some updated mind-boggling stats from Facebook:

  • 13 million users update their statuses at least once each day
  • 2.5 million users become fans of Pages each day
  • 700 million photos are uploaded to the site each month
  • 4 million videos are uploaded each month
  • 15 million pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photos, etc.) are shared each month
  • 2 million events created each month
  • 19 million active groups exist on the site