A College Facebook Scandal

The College Prowler publishes a popular series of books and undoubtedly part of its success can be traced back to its marketing efforts.

But the publisher recently got caught stepping over the line with a sneaky viral marketing campaign on Facebook. An enterprising blogger discovered that fake students were creating “Class of 2013” groups on Facebook to attract high school seniors who have begun getting college acceptances.

Brad  Ward, who is the electronics coordinater at Butler University, outed College Prowler a few days ago on his blog. He speculated that College Prowler, which produces guidebooks including those for individual colleges, spearheaded the effort to collect student names for future marketing efforts.

The blog created an uproar among colleges during a normally sleepy period, which led College Prowler’s chief executive officer to admit that he had “crossed the line.”

Not surprisingly, this wasn’t the first time that College Prowler got caught engaging in dubious marketing practices. In 2006, higher ed officials complained that the publisher threatened to criticize individual schools if they didn’t advertise in its publications.

You can’t always believe what you read in print or see on the Internet when researching schools. Maintaining a healthy bit of skepticism is always a good idea when searching for colleges.

Now I’m off to bake my third double batch of Spritz butter cookies…..I hope everyone enjoys the holidays.

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