Safety and Security on Facebook

Facebook is still the most popular social network for teens. My (unscientific) research done by talking to teens about their use of Facebook reveals that they still use Facebook in addition to apps like Snapchat, but they generally use social media differently than their parents do, using it more for personal communication than to share things with the whole world.

Facebook still officially requires users to be at least 13 years old, and users can report children who are under 13 years old. If your and/or your child is new to Facebook, make sure that you take a look at the Parents Portal. The site includes a number of parenting tips of parents in the digital age, a section on using Facebook and staying safe, parenting tips, and expert advice from groups around the world.

Instructions for those new to Facebook

List of resources in the security center

The broader safety center also includes safety tools and resources, bullying prevention information for teens, parents and educators, and a help center, in addition to the Parents Portal.

I recommend that you take the time to explore this resource to learn how to use Facebook, and how to keep yourself and your family safe online. Even if you’re not new to Facebook, it’s a good idea to regularly complete the security and privacy checkups to make sure that your settings and online habits are as you wish them to be.

Review your Facebook Activity

  1. Click on Activity log below your cover photo. The number indicates the number timeline/tag reviews that are pending on your account.
  2. Activity log shows you a list of everything that you’ve done on Facebook. It is only available to you.
  3. From here, you can filter through your different types of activities. 
  4. For example, to access your hidden activity (to change visibility or out of curiosity , click on Hidden.
  5. To change visibility for an item, click on the beside it.

Responsible Use of Social Media

This recent article by Mashable is targeted at students but really, it is useful for all users, including adults.

Read the article for an explanation of each item on the list. The bare list of 12 things students should avoid when using social media, presented verbatim is:

  1. post illegal activities
  2. bullying
  3. trash your teachers
  4. post objectionable content from school computers or networks
  5. post confidential information
  6. overly specific location check-ins
  7. lie/cheat/plagiarize
  8. threaten violence
  9. ignore school-specific policies
  10. unprofessional public profiles
  11. never rely on privacy settings 100%
  12. post emotionally

… and 20 Annoying Things on Facebook

  1. TMI Parents
  2. Marketing
  3. Vaguebooking
  4. Unsolicited check-ins
  5. The Humblebrag
  6. Vanity
  7. Song Lyrics
  8. Political rants
  9. Twitter sync
  10. Third person
  11. Phantom tag
  12. Creepers
  13. Publicizing private moments
  14. Unnecessary name changes
  15. Month-long events
  16. The shared profile
  17. Urban legends/chain letters
  18. The “Arm Triangle of Insecurity”
  19. Mundate posts + Exercise bragging
  20. Redundant links

I don’t think that social networks is the only place that these activities should not be done. I must admit to being guilty of Twitter sync on Facebook, and since I have many professional contacts on Facebook, I’m unlikely to stop the syncing.

Read the full article for more information on responsible use of social media, and for suggested habits to keep your Facebook friends happier!

When Learning Goes Social

A few months ago, a friend of mine posted on Facebook that he was going to close his account. I promptly messaged him to ask why, as this is the only way that I keep in touch with him. He responded that it is a complete waste of time and that he spends too much time on Facebook when he could be doing other more worthwhile things. I get his point. I even think that there are good reasons to not be on Facebook. However, I use Facebook and post on it regularly although I don’t spend much time on the actual site or in the app. My twitter account posts to Facebook, and my blogs post to Facebook, so I appear more active “on” Facebook than I actually am. I learn things on Facebook all the time. Sure, I comment on pictures that my friends post and engage in discussions about lifestyle or other mundane topics. However, I’m also part of a personal computer club group, I follow a workout blog, I discuss the use of social media in schools with other colleagues, I read news stories of interests that my friends share in their feeds, I get recipe suggestions from friends, etc.

Social isn’t the antithesis of learning. In fact, learning is a very social activity. When I post an observation, an article, a video, etc. on Facebook, I’m hoping for dialogue, for conversation, for co-creation of understanding with my “friends”. The process of engagement, having friends support me and challenge me strengthens my own understanding of situations and concepts. I propose a paradigm shift, a mental shift where social networks and social media become part of learning, integrated into learning. They’re not illicit activities that people only do to waste time. Sure, one can waste a lot of time online but what if we removed the artificial disconnect between social and learning? What if we start creating environments and opportunities for social to be learning. I think that that would be a step in the right direction rather than continuing to support the current tensions between social media/networks and learning.