Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pablo Banila, Here's Your 5 Minutes of Fame.

If you are a regular Multiply user, his name would probably ring a bell. His avatar saying "Pablo Banila has a crush on you!" would have probably popped up in your viewing history. For me, it wasn't a big deal until my friend made a blog entry about how Pablo Banila should get a life. For a moment there, we fell into his trap. We concluded he is a psycho, a freak, while we were getting all high with the thought of someone actually "stalking" us.

Just a few weeks ago, Pablo Banila finally dropped the bomb. He is not a cyber-stalker. According to people who know him, he is actually one heck of a computer genius. Pablo Banila, Paolo Bantolo in real life, graduated from the Philippine Science High School and went on to study Computer Science at the University of the Philippines Diliman before transferring to New York University; he is currently a graduate student at California Riverside. He certainly did have a life! So how did he manage to view millions of social networking profiles everyday (every hour and every second)? He actually did not. His bots did it for him.

He emailed Inquirer's 2bU after an article in the said newspaper came out, explaining his real deal. At one point, he mentioned: I'm simply exploiting the legal loophole of the viewing history as a problem of function. He further claims that he is merely exercising his right to view public profiles, giving emphasis on PUBLIC domain.

On the other side, there are numerous reactions from the general public. There are some who are outright annoyed, others went on about their lives. So where does this go to now?

Paolo Bantolo certainly made a good point in his project (socio-cultural and psychological aspects - goes on to say he was discriminated the same way as Blacks, Muslims, and homosexuals are being discriminated and how people react entirely different when he puts images of young, attractive females as his Multiply headshot). However, I personally think he cannot attack the concept of the viewing history as a problem of function. As he put it, public domain is public domain. That in itself does not make it an arena for influx of unrestricted information. People do not lose their right to privacy just by jumping into the public domain. The viewing history was put there for users to know who they are faced with. On the other hand, I would have to agree though that what he did was not a form of harassment nor of stalking.

True indeed, he did not pose any "credible threat" since he, I mean, his bots just viewed homepages, not blogs, photos, etc. (well, probably people were taken aback with his "scarecrow headshot") but he certainly still gives off the creeps and bad vibes!

More info about the Pablo Banila hype here and here.

*sorry for the long post!*

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