Sunday, September 16, 2007

Welcome friends

I was interested in the article about Facebook in this weeks Times Education Supplement. As you'd expect there were stories of where Facebook use had gone wrong, i.e. secondary teachers allowing pupils to be friends, or pupils locating pupils. Or the classic id theft.

I love Facebook and I use it to keep in touch with a former colleague and mates from my Swansea youth and I believe that as ICT evangelists we have to be walking the walking of Web 2.0. I don't whole heatedly subscribe to the Prensky thing, even though I am just over 25 I am not a complete digital immigrant.

However I do think we as teachers, should be using Facebook with care. I am not sure that I'd like my New years eve photos from 96 on there or indeed anything that makes me look mildly irresponsible. Neither do I want to accept friendship invitations from a teacher or pupil. Even if I met them on a course I did. I don't have 152 friends in real life! I agree with the Sheffield Hallam research which says we manage to maintain around 5 close friends, at any one time.

The team asked more than 200 people to fill in questionnaires about their online networking, asking for example how many online friends they had, how many of these were close friends and how many they had met face to face. The team found that although the sites allowed contact with hundreds of acquaintances, as with conventional friendship networks, people tend to have around five close friends

Count yourself privileged then if I have accepted you into my Facebook world. And for all of us in the Education World, I suggest we follow the tips form this weeks TES and rank up the Privacy settings in the My Privacy area of Facebook.

TES Top Tips

  1. Have a neutral picture of yourself as your profile image

  2. Look at your privacy settings before you post

  3. Don't post embarrassing material

  4. Be careful when replying to pokes or groups

  5. Use a pseudonym as a disguise

  6. Choose your facebook friends carefully and ask about their privacy controls

  7. Don't have pupils as Facebook friends

  8. Remember former pupils often have friends still @ school

  9. If in doubt don't post, phone

And even more reason to beware and rank up those privacy settings can be seen on phillip Fung's entry on the official Facebook blog:

Starting today, we are making limited public search listings available to people who are not logged in to Facebook. We're expanding search so that people can see which of their friends are on Facebook more easily.

In a few weeks, we will allow these Public Search listings (depending on users' individual privacy settings) to be found by search engines like Google, MSN Live, Yahoo, etc. We think this will help more people connect and find value from Facebook without exposing any actual profile information or data.As always, if you do not want your public search listing to be visible to people searching from outside of Facebook, you can control that from the Search Privacy page. Please note that you will only appear in searches outside Facebook when your search settings are set to "Everyone