With all the hubbub about social networking and how predators are surfing the interwebs looking for hapless victims, I found this item to more than just a bit distressing. From AppScout:

The next time you add a friend on Facebook, he or she may in fact not be a person. Meet Albert, a 20-year-old male chimpanzee, who was the first ape to join the social network. He paved the way for three other chimps to follow, including Mr. Jones, Sheena, and Britney.

Now you are probably thinking the same thing I was when hearing about this story: Chimps don’t know how to use computers, do they? According to scientists from The University of Northern Oregon, we’re wrong. They do. These scientists have spent the last two years training Albert and his fellow primates, all members of the Pan troglodytes species, to learn online language skills in the Cyber Chimps Project.
Through this project, the four chimps can now communicate with more than a thousand symbols on Facebook. They can add friends, write text messages and even change their profile pictures. This is all possible through software designed specifically for the primates, which recognizes sign language and incorporates a touch screen.

“Although sociologists and anthropologists have used social networks as empirical research tools, Facebook will now provide a new platform for biologists to observe the chimpanzees’ social skills,” says Dr. John F. Marlowe, chief researcher of the study.

Marlowe says that the study shows that chimpanzees and humans both use the same area of the brain for both verbal and non-verbal communication. He also says that the study proves that chimps have a brain designed for language, which allows them to communicate with symbols.

As Facebook continues to grow as the largest social network with over 40 million profiles to date, Albert and his friends may start a trend for other nonhuman communicators to join the social network craze.

Before you had to wonder if the picture of the online dating match you had was real. Now you have to wonder if they are human! They’re seeping into society…slowly but surely.

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