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Facebook: The good, the bad and the ugly

Facebook: The good, the bad and the ugly

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Facebook: The good, the bad and the ugly

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  1. Facebook: The good, the bad and the ugly Michael Bertner Leslie Jo Shelton

  2. Part 1: Orientation Session • This session is meant to give a general overview of: • What Facebook is • The history behind Facebook • Basic features of Facebook • General Student Issues Regarding Facebook • General safety tips for all online communication

  3. The History of Facebook • “Facebook is an online directory that connects people through social networks at schools” ( • Launched to the public Wednesday Feb 4, 2004 • Harvard students created the site as a tool to connect with other students in their community • It announces birthdays, events and invitations • Start-up based in Palo Alto, California • Begin small and is now one of the top ten most visited sites on the web and is profitable (Information compiled from New York, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and

  4. Why Students Make Facebook pages • Generates a sense of community • Can be used as a form of advertisement • Seen as a forum to postulate views • High School Facebook might lead to College use • Fun way to stay connected to old friends • Easy way to make new friends • Academic support (Connects people through classes, fosters partnerships) • Allows for self-expression and self-representation • Student groups use it as a form of communication • Part of the new on-line communication movement • Free form of mass communication (Information gathered from Personal Experience, New York Times. Com and The Chronicle of Higher Education)

  5. Features of Facebook • There is a function that allows you to block people • There are standards as to Facebook names (no profanity, celebrity, etc) • There is no way to see who has looked at your page • Efforts to stop spammers exist • Facebook groups exist by college only, you can not belong to a group that was created at another college • Offensive groups can be reported and shut down (Information gathered from

  6. Features continued • High School Facebook does not connect to College Facebook so the two groups of students can not mingle • Facebook supports more than 2500 schools in several countries • Can not mass mail all of your friends • Only people on your friends list can post on your wall • You can anonymously report offensive pictures and content (Information gathered from

  7. Student Issues concerning Facebook • Unless you specify “only friends” anyone can see your profile • You will not know who has viewed your page • Information can be used against you in a number of ways • Stalkers • Practical Jokers • Thieves • Con artists • Universities are beginning to use Facebook for a number of functions: • Background checks • Judicial Sanctioning • General information gathering (Information compiled from New York, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and

  8. Safety Continued • Communications created through Facebook are subject to the same laws and policies as written/verbal communication: • Therefore threats and intimidation can and will be prosecuted in both the Judicial and Legal arena. • Knowledge of the safety issues can keep you out of danger, both personally and Academically • An example of what can happen when Facebook is used inappropriately (Diversity College example) (Information compiled from New York, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and

  9. Basic Online Safety • All online communication (journaling, instant messaging, Facebook, rate my professor, etc) can be used in both positive and negative ways • All of these sites are public forums and as such what you write can be viewed by others • The First Amendment does not cover all speech (threats or inflammatory statements for example) and students should make themselves aware of the limitations

  10. Safety continued • Repercussions can stem from postings Such as: • Employers can use Facebook to check backgrounds • Judicial Officers can use Facebook at a sanctioning tool • Threats placed through an electronic forum will still be taken as serious and authorities will act as if the threat is real • Password safety and identity theft (Information from ASJA listserve)

  11. Why this presentation is necessary • The recent situation involving one of our students is the perfect example of why such presentations are necessary. • Such a presentation shows us to be proactive, aware of issues and willing to institute change • This presentation not only benefits our students, it gives us something to point to incase students plead ignorance of such rules and protocol in the future

  12. Part 2 Online Tutorial • Why do students need this? • It is important to go slightly more into depth with students so that they have a solid understanding of their obligations and risks • Students are more likely to retain the knowledge if we use multiple ways of presenting information • Students will learn better by doing something engaging rather than sitting passively through a presentation

  13. The Topics of the Tutorial: • Threats Specific to Facebook • Uses of Facebook • Possible Harm Coming from Facebook • General Electronic Safety

  14. Threats Specific to Facebook • A discussion looking at the positives and negatives of Facebook and other online communication tools • Looks at: • What a public online space is and what responsibilities a student takes on when creating one. • How information posted on Facebook can be used by others to cause students harm and distress. • Specific attention paid to Theft, Stalking, Emotional Distress and Identity Theft

  15. Uses of Facebook • Discussion of how postings, groups and other media can portray students and affect future chances for success. Looking at topics such as how: • Prospective employers use Facebook as a background check • School Administrators use Facebook for academic decisions and judicial sanctions

  16. Possible Harm Relating to Facebook • Postings, communications and other media can cross lines from legal to illegal and have serious repercussions in the personal, academic and professional arenas • Discussion of where these lines are clearly drawn, where they are hazy and what students need to know

  17. General Electronic Safety • A look at password safety (what it should/should not be, how to store it), browser etiquette (closing windows that had sensitive/personal information), online relationships and general risks involved and public viewing rights (who can see what)

  18. Why These Topics? • While we know Facebook is a large entity with any number of different topics which could be discussed; the topics we have focused upon are the ones most likely to create problems for our students if they are not made aware of current dangers • These topics were agreed upon after research was conducted using news outlets (New York Times), higher education journals (The Chronicle of Higher Education), various on line sources (, and reviewing professional discourse (ASJA Listserve)

  19. Tutorial Test • The test would consist of 20 questions which would be a mixture of multiple choice and true false questions drawn from the variable topics (5 per topic). The quiz would be made in the form of a Facebook page, with each of the groups representing a topic students would be quizzed on. Questions on the quiz would occasionally reference the mock page to further engage the student. • Sample questions have been included below to indicate tutorial content and correct answers have been bolded. • Correct answers were identified using New York, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and and the ASJA Listserve

  20. Question Set 1 • Questions for Threats Specific to Facebook: 1. Who can view a Facebook page: A) Anyone who is on the Facebook network B) Only people I chose to C) Anyone who is on the Facebook network unless I select the friends only feature D) Anyone who has access to the internet 2. Who can create a Facebook page? A) Anyone with internet access B) Anyone with a email account that ends in .edu C) High School Students, College Students and Alumni who satisfy the site’s requirements to sign up D) Parents of college students 3. True or False: You can be can be held legally or judicially responsible for information you post on the internet 4. True or False: Facebook does not monitor account names, site content, multiple accounts, ect. 5. True or False: There is an official reporting system on Facebook if you find offensive material

  21. Question Set 2 • Questions for Uses of Facebook: 1. How can Facebook be used: A) It is only a social site B) Employers, Schools and other entities can use it as a screening tool C) A site to find friends and parties D) All of the above 2. How might judicial officers currently use facebook? A) They can’t, the information is protected under the first amendment B) They can use the information as a sanctioning tool C) Depending on a schools code of conduct and policies judicial officers can hold students responsible for any content found on the site D) They don’t look at it 3. True or False: Others can chose to put information on your page 4. True of False: People who visit your profile can see what has been written on your wall 5. True or False: You can make people take picture down of you that they post on their site

  22. Question Set 3 • Possible Harm Coming From Facebook Questions: 1. Can statements (threats/harassment) made electronically have legal or judicial consequences? A) Yes, they are a form of communication and are covered by the same rules that cover spoken and written communications B) Yes they are not something people are allowed to do C) No, saying something electronically is not the same as saying it personally D) No, its on a website 2. Is it a bad idea to list personal information on your Facebook like our sample page individual? A) No, friends will be able to find me much easier that way B) No, none of that information is that big a deal C) Yes, that information puts me at risk for identity theft, stalking or personal theft D) Yes and no, it’s a personal choice 3. True or False: People could potentially find out where you live, who your friends are and your schedule through a Facebook account 4. True or False: Police may find party invites and crash parties using information they find 5. True or False: Facebook is responsible for any negative actions that occur as a result of information posted on their site

  23. Question Set 4 • General Electronic Safety: 1. Where should you store your password: A) It is fine to write it down and stick it in a drawer B) Written down in a secure location only you and people you trust have access to C) On your desktop with the file name Password D) Just tell people, its not that big a deal 2. What should you do when you are finished looking at a secure website? A) Close the browser window so no one else can see it B) Minimize the window, it will cycle out of the page eventually C) Just put in a new website, no one would be able to get back to what you were looking at D) Leave it where it is, with out your information people can’t do anything with it 3. True or False: Utilizing the automatic login feature on computers which stores user name and password is safe 4. True or False: There is no risk in having your AIM profile contain links to pages with more personal information included 5: True or False: Online relationships are completely safe because you can always log off and the other person knows only what you have told them.

  24. How do we know it works? • Receiving results: Before distributing student scores they would be required to fill out an online survey regarding the tutorial and test. This would allow for quantitative and qualitative research • The data will be stored and this committee can compare student behavior pre and post tutorial to see if there are correlations between the new program and decreased incidents of risky student behavior • While the committee will meet bi-monthly to discuss current needs and concerns, a more formal analysis will be conducted one year after launch to analyze necessary change and usefulness

  25. Recommendations • Faculty and Staff should complete the orientation and tutorial as well because: • The issues affecting students will bleed over in to faculty life as well • Students are using online tools more and more as their preferred form of communication, if we want to meet students where they are, we need to know how to talk in their language • There are numerous education opportunities Facebook presents if used correctly • Judicially it is a powerful fact finding tool and can be used in a number of different capacities • Staff can enjoy the social aspects of the site too!

  26. Final Thoughts • As student affairs practitioners we have the unique experience of working in a time where communication tools grow faster than anyone ever thought possible. • We realize that in order to understand our student’s world we must understand the tools they use to engage one another • While online communication may seem like a fad, the extraordinary growth of such enterprises suggests it is not going anywhere • As with new tool or application, when used appropriately Facebook has extraordinary potential to form community and bonds between students. It falls to us to educate our students to be sure they enjoy all of the befits but none of the risks