When a name like Kweku Adoboli instantly becomes public, like the UBS trader who allegedly lost the bank $2 billion in unauthorized transactions and who is suddenly a globally hot Internet search item, many turn to the most public source available -- Facebook, the world's largest social network.
Adoboli is allegedly the UBS rogue trader who has brought UBS, the Swiss bank, momentarily to its knees in shame and financial turmoil. UBS hasn't confirmed the name of the trader, but London police have identified the man arrested in the alleged scheme as 31-year-old Adoboli.
With social media such a useful tool, the first thing journalists from around the world did Thursday morning after learning the name of the man authorities have in custody was go to Adoboli's Facebook page. Since Facebook has 750 million users worldwide, odds were good that Adoboli has some worthy information about himself there.
Which of course, he did.
We learned that Adoboli likes the music of "MC Xander," "Fela Kuti," and "Gwyneth Herbert." We learned that Adoboli lists among "Activities and Interests" at Facebook several photographers, a London pub, Ghana, and "Al Jazeera English." We saw that he's connected on Facebook to the UBS network. We also learned that Adoboli has 419 Facebook "Friends."
And that's where the story gets interesting.
First, we don't know that Adoboli is guilty of being a rogue trader who cost UBS $2 billion. The charge, at this point, is just that -- a charge.
However, we do know that apparently Adoboli is the one being charged by authorities as the person who cost UBS $2 billion in unauthorized investment activity.
How a bank as big as UBS could lose $2 billion before noticing too late is an entirely separate issue. But for Adoboli's 419 Facebook friends, there's another issue many will be facing today.
Among the first things reporters do when a non-public persona surges into the spotlight for something as big as the UBS rogue trading crime is search through Facebook "Friend" lists to get insight into the person. It's actually the first thing IBTimes did this morning, for instance -- sending e-mails to many among Adoboli's Facebook "Friend" list.
None have responded so far, but that was just one hour ago. Also, it's worth noting that at first log-in to Adoboli's Facebook page he had 420 friends. Fifteen minutes later, he was down one, to 419. Now, another hour later -- Adoboli's Facebook "Friend" list has dropped to 417.
And, just before 10 a.m. EDT on Thursday, Adoboli's Facebook page was deleted.
There's nothing wrong with being Facebook friends with either someone who committed a crime or someone who, like Adoboli, is only being charged with a crime. But let's face the facts -- we're learning in this fast-changing social network world that a new kind of association is emerging that many will have to think about into the future.
Just because someone is among 419 Facebook friends with Adoboli doesn't indict them, of course. However, it may put them into a position that they don't want -- being hounded by journalists and others about one of the most costly individual rogue trading crimes ever. Tens of thousands are likely to visit Adoboli's Facebook page in the coming days, as the UBS trader becomes a well-known name around the world.
And every time another visits his Facebook page his 419 friends are there (a number likely to drop), with many getting contacted by those seeking information about Adoboli. Some might not mind, but here's a bet that many, whether they are supportive of Adoboli or not, will wish they weren't Facebook "Friends" with the man accused of rogue trading and costing UBS $2 billion.