by Tiffany Hasker
“I never friend any students (former or current) or their parents. Two reasons: 1) I don’t want them to get a biased view of me outside of the office, & 2) I don’t want to know about any illegal or crazy actions by them. I don’t want to be privy to any pics or info about drinking, smoking or inappropriate behavior.” —CTA member’s Facebook post
Nowadays, an increasing number of teachers are becoming friends with their students on Facebook. Some educators use Facebook to make themselves more accessible to students. Others use it to strengthen relationships or to connect with former students. Many classrooms even have a Facebook group for students to connect with and help one another.
Facebook is a wonderful tool for teachers, but even though most teachers do not use Facebook inappropriately, unrestricted access to a teacher’s personal life is not always wise. While your Facebook profile is your own, permitting students access to your page requires discretion and responsibility. If parents or students are upset by something they see, the teacher may be reprimanded.
Even if it's your policy not to be friends with students on Facebook, you should understand that nothing posted to Facebook is ever completely private. Your posts can be forwarded and changed and could potentially reflect poorly on your career or school.
A good adage to live by: Don't post anything on Facebook that you wouldn't want a school district official to know about, your grandmother to read, or your 7-year-old daughter to see.
Following are common privacy-related questions about Facebook and our best attempt to answer them, understanding, though, that Facebook changes all the time.
My privacy settings seem to change, and I don’t remember changing them. Am I doing something wrong?
Facebook rolls out upgrades to the site regularly — they’re rolling out another one right now, in fact. Some of us are already seeing a whole new Facebook, while others still see the same news feed we have done since the rollout of “Timeline.” Often when these changes are made, privacy settings go back to the original default settings — which means content you’d previously only shared with friends might now suddenly be public. This isn’t always the case, but why take the risk? It’s best to regularly check your privacy settings, at least every few months.
What you can do about it: Click on the lock icon on the right of the blue navigation bar at the top of the page. Go through each section and make sure you’re comfortable with the selections.
I’ve read that Facebook “owns” my photos and can use them for advertising. Is that true, and what can I do to prevent it?
Yes, if you do not take action, advertisers are given free rein to use your profile image to promote their product, services or beliefs in your friends’ news feeds.
What you can do about it: Go to Privacy Settings > Ads > Ads & Friends, and select “No One.”
I want to follow my family and friends, but different people keep coming up in my news feed. Why is this happening and how can I stop it?
Unfortunately, this is part of Facebook’s new strategy to make the site more “social” and attract more advertising revenue. And this makes a quick check-in of Facebook increasingly more frustrating for the average user. Facebook doesn’t make it easy to avoid these “sponsored” or “suggested posts” because they’re now part of our news feeds rather than just small, right-column ads.
What you can do about it: There is one way to stop advertising posts from entering your news feed again, but only on a page-by-page basis. My advice: Just keep scrolling and don’t click on the advertised links. Hopefully, if advertisers don’t get the number of “click-throughs” they were hoping for, this advertising fad will go away (unlikely, but one can hope).
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