Using Facebook and maintaining a professional image

Discussion in 'General Education' started by newbie1234, Jun 2, 2008.

  1. newbie1234

    newbie1234 Companion

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    A local newspaper published an article about teachers who posted controversial content on their Facebook profiles. The Sun Sentinel actually posted the teachers' full names, schools and grade levels, which I feel is out of line. Several of the teachers will probably be terminated.

    It seems that some of the "questionable content" was taken out of context or exaggerated. One teacher had a picture of his girlfriend in a "skimpy outfit," but maybe they were at the beach or a costume party. Who is to say how skimpy the outfit is anyway? There's no context.

    The lesson I took away from this article is that teachers have to be very careful online. We shouldn't assume that anything we post online is private; note that several of the teachers commented that they believed their photos were private.

    The safest thing to do is to not use social networking sites, but many people rely on these sites to keep in touch with family and friends. For those of us who have social networking profiles, here are some tips for using those sites that I've compiled myself:

    - Don't use your work email address to register at a social networking site. Members and often non-members can search for you using your email address at most sites, and it's probably against district policy to receive emails from those sites at work.

    - Become familiar with the site's privacy settings by reading the FAQ's and contacting customer support if you have concerns.

    - In MySpace, set your profile to "private." In Facebook, click on "privacy," go through the four categories of privacy settings, and set everything to either "only friends" or "only me."

    - In Facebook, you can set pictures that others have tagged of you to "friends only." However, you can't prevent other people from posting pictures of you and not tagging them with your name. Keep an eye out for pictures that your friends have posted, and ask them to either make private or take down images that you feel aren't appropriate.

    - Don't enter your school or your district anywhere in your profile. When you post something on your profile, you're really posting key words and search terms so that other users can find you based on that information. If you post "X District Schools" under "work" in Facebook, you become a member of the X District Schools network. Other users can find you when they search for "X District Schools." In Myspace, if you enter "X District Schools" anywhere on your profile, "X District Schools" becomes a clickable search term. To be safe, omit that information entirely.

    - Don't add outside applications such as quizzes to your profile.
    Often those quizzes and tests (like "What Kind of Kisser are You?" and so forth) have different privacy settings, and they might broadcast your quiz results and personal information on another website.

    - Most importantly, don't post information or pictures that you wouldn't want your students or their parents to find. There are lots of ways to get around privacy settings. Students could even pose as adults an add you as a friend on these sites, gaining access to all of your photos and personal thoughts.

    - Finally, keep in mind sites like Technorati that will show you which sites refer to other sites. For example, if you keep a blog for your class and link to it from your personal blog, students can go to Technorati.com, type in the url for the class blog, and see a list of websites that link to it. Your personal blog will probably be among those websites if you link to the class blog.

    I hope this is helpful!
     
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  3. New3rdTeacher

    New3rdTeacher Comrade

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    I have a myspace and a facebook and both are very private! Most of the kids in my 3rd grade class have a myspace and they always ask me if I do, I say no way. I also use a fake last name on both so they can't search me!
    If by any ridiculous chance they do find me, I have a picture of a post it note that says "I don't do pictures." You have to actually be a friend to see my pictures :)
     
  4. cMcD

    cMcD Groupie

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    I have my facebook set to private. If you search me you can't even see my pic, just my name. Some people are just idiots.
     
  5. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    When I signed my contract I had to sign something saying that I would never post inappropriate pictures on sites like myspace or facebook. We had to read over this long report about lawsuits, accountability, and all that stuff.

    I don't "do" social networking sites, but if I did, I'd be super careful. We've all heard of teachers getting fired for something stupid. I don't want to be one of them.
     
  6. educator

    educator Rookie

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    I suppose that the social networking question is just another opportunity for teachers to lead by example.

    Some things are private, and should be kept private. As a teacher, your relationships, your sexual activity and to some extent even your interests must be kept private.

    I understand that many feel the students should know that teachers are "people too", but I think that keeping enough private to make the kids think that there are some who live above the frey is a good thing. They know that everyone makes mistakes, but they also need to know that there are those who really try not to.
     
  7. newbie1234

    newbie1234 Companion

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    I wouldn't be so quick to say that people are idiots. There have been well-publicized privacy loopholes on Facebook, and those applications that everybody forwards around sometimes do their own thing. Even though I have that feed thing disabled, I added a sports application that spammed stuff to the feed. It wasn't inappropriate by any means, but it was still annoying. There's also Google cache and archive.org, so even if a website is currently private, people can sometimes access personal information if it was public in the past.
     
  8. cMcD

    cMcD Groupie

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    My feeling is that if you're trying to be professional, especially a teacher your profile should be set to private and you shouldn't put questionable things up. Even though my profile is private I took down pics of my crazy college days. Some people just need to use common sense.
     
  9. Teachling

    Teachling Groupie

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    Good point on the privacy loopholes & pictures being tagged. While intentions may be good, unbeknownst to you, your picture could end up in a contraversial site/page. :eek:

    Ah, I'm not much on social network sites but I like Facebook. I've found some dear loved ones through this site. I don't have anything on mine other than family pictures of events but now I am rethinking of the what-if's you can't control as you pointed out. :(
     
  10. newbie1234

    newbie1234 Companion

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    I agree that common sense is a big reason why people get in trouble for things they post online, but that's not the whole story. It's generally a bad idea to post inappropriate pictures, but you can't stop other people from posting inappropriate pictures or pictures that give the false impression that something unseemly is going on. The most you can do on Facebook is untag the photo or mark all tagged photos as private, and MySpace doesn't even offer that. In the article, some of the teachers who were "exposed" had inappropriate applications on their profiles. Like I said, those applications that aren't created by Facebook sort of do their own thing, and sometimes they override your privacy settings.
     
  11. cMcD

    cMcD Groupie

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    Well I guess if it gets to be a problem then those people should not have a facebook or myspace account. What's more important, your job or seeing what new bumper sticker your friend got?

    Please excuse my bluntness, I've just heard so much about the facebook and myspace debate that I'm getting rigid. It's pretty cut and dry to me. If you think something could get you in trouble then don't have an account, or have an account under a different name.
     
  12. newbie1234

    newbie1234 Companion

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    I also have a Facebook profile in order to keep in touch with friends. I don't have any pictures, anything inappropriate, or even the wall active. However, friends of mine have posted pictures of me even though I've asked them not to. The pictures aren't inappropriate, but it shows that sometimes pictures can show up without your consent.

    I wouldn't worry too much as long as your profile is private and your friends and family are responsive if you ask them to take down pictures that you're uncomfortable with. I also stopped responding to those invitations to add things like quizzes and games because those applications share all kinds of information with other users and possibly other websites.
     
  13. newbie1234

    newbie1234 Companion

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    My point is that things get posted to the web that users not only don't think could get them in trouble, they might not even know they're getting posted to the web. It's not just a problem with social networking sites, either. I've met quite a few people in my age group who aren't familiar with Technorati, aren't familiar with archive.org and the Wayback Machine, and aren't fully aware of Google cache. I wouldn't classify any of those people as idiots, and I wouldn't want to see anybody lose their job because they don't fully understand technology that is, after all, relatively new.

    I didn't intend to engage in any kind of debate. I posted that article and some helpful hints in order to help prevent other teachers from making mistakes that could get them fired.
     
  14. ~~Pam~~

    ~~Pam~~ Companion

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    I read the Sun article linked above and agree that some of those educators should lose their teaching license! I know my district has bent over backward to be sure that we all have a clear understanding of the ethics clause that we sign. I'm not ultra conservative or old, but it just makes common sense (maybe that's the problem) that if you want to be respected as an educator then you need to act responsibly. More than many other professions, we have to be so accountable to our students. It doesn't seem that difficult to me. :soapbox:
     
  15. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    My MySpace isn't set to private, but there isn't anything on my profile that wouldn't be anything that I wouldn't care to make public. I do, however, keep my blogs, videos, and photos set to "friends only". I approve all comments before they post. I don't use those stupid annoying applications.

    I wanted to be public and use my real name because I wanted my friends to be able to find me. I actually know everybody on my list, even several of the famous people.

    Some people just don't use common sense.
     
  16. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Until this moment, I'd never heard of Technorati, archive.org, the Wayback Machine, or Google Cache.

    Do I need to know about these things?
     
  17. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I has a Myspace account but rarely use it. I do, on the other hand, have Facebook account that I use almost everyday. I use this account strictly to communicate with my relatives who live in other states than I do. I am always careful about what is posted on my site, and I have everything set to "friends only."
     
  18. lou reed

    lou reed Companion

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    technorati is a blog search engine, so you can search for things on people's blogs that wouldn't ordinarily show up on a regular search engine. Could be problematic if you had a friend mention you by name in his/her blog.

    archive.org/the wayback machine: takes snapshots of old versions of websites and can go back as far as a decade or more. the good news is a lot of frequently updated social networking sites (facebook, myspace, et al) are able to block it. The bad news is that any other site probably shows up on it, so if you had a questionable webpage or something people could still look it up.

    Google Cache: is a temporary storage of information on a website that can be accessed through a search. If you search for anything on google, you'll notice a blue link at the bottom of each result that says "cached." It'll show you a recent version of the site, but can be slow to update. If you were to put your myspace on private today, people could look at the cache and still see your front page for several weeks or months.
     
  19. newbie1234

    newbie1234 Companion

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    Thanks for explaining all this very well, lou reed! :2up:

    I posted the article here and the tips in order to share tips and tricks for communicating responsibly online. Many people think that you can delete embarrassing information the same way that you can delete a file on your computer, but it doesn't quite work that way.

    Another thing to be aware of is metadata, which is information that describes a particular file or data. If you have a folder on your computer named something offensive, like "bad students," or "annoying parents," and you email one of the files from that folder, the metadata will include the folder name. Here is the Wiki article on metadata, but if anybody has a better link, feel free to share!
     
  20. cheeryteacher

    cheeryteacher Enthusiast

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    My students know that I don't add kids. Today one of my students was telling me how I rejected him so many times on myspace. He said he even got his big brother to send me a friend request. I ONLY add real friends. I don't have anything bad on my page, but I still worry that one of my kids doesn't know one of the people I added. It's quite possible since I teach at a school that I used to attend.
     
  21. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    I'm a Myspace FREAK. Of course I don't use my real name, and my account is set to private. But even if the pickiest parent was able to access my page and check out the pics, they wouldn't find anything offensive. Like the other poster said, it's just common sense. :cool:
     

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