“Find Friends”

When you are signing up for social networks such as Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter etc they often give you an opportunity to “find friends”. See the screenshot below for Facebook. If you enter your email credentials (whether work or personal) it will allow the site access to your contact list. In the case of Linkedin we are currently seeing a large amount of “referral” emails being sent to users throughout the district as people have been signing up and using the “find friends” option.
I’d ask you to consider three things when signing up with social networks:
  • When you give out your email credentials (email + password) to a service to find friends, it has full access to your contacts list (I’d strongly suggest not sharing your work contact list as it likely contains parents and colleagues)
  • If you are using a social network for personal reasons, you should be using a personal email account (not your school district email as it is not private). Yahoo, Google (gmail), Microsoft (hotmail, live) offer free email accounts. If you are paying an internet service provider (Shaw, Telus, PRIS) then you already have an email account you can use.
  • Would everyone on your contact list appreciate the automated referral emails that are coming in your name?
You can always skip this “find friends” step for these services (as I do), and you can manually add the people that you’d want to connect with.
Privacy and the Internet often don’t go well together. Always consider what you are sharing online through websites or email. Our digital footprints are usually permanent!


Brain to Twitter Link?

Yesterday I was looking at a local Paper.li which is a service that allows you to build a newspaper from people’s tweets/facebook. Really great web app. I stumbled onto something that led me to what I figured out were a couple of students at our local high school. The tweet was something about loving Mr. Lovell’s class on WWI trench warfare. Mr Lovell is certainly engaging so I did a screenshot and sent it to him.

Being curious about student use of social media I read through some tweets and looked at others they were having conversations with and found others that got my digital footprint hackles up a little lot. Vulgar comments, sexual comments, other inappropriate comments regarding drug use, parents, people etc. The other unfortunate piece is that the students were using their pictures and their actual names in many cases on their twitter profile. Ya for openness, not so good on appropriateness.

I found one student through the links of mentions that had protected her tweets. Since others hadn’t protected theirs and the conversation was public on one side you could get a bit of a picture of what the discussion was about. The bad thing with a bit of a picture is that our brains draw the rest of the conversation! This led to my tweet of:

I’m concerned here that these digital footprints will follow students around and come back when they least expect it. Perhaps being used against them for a variety of unfortunate scenarios including legal, school, family, friend, work, scholarship, future post secondary, international visa eligibility, future job opportunities etc.

I’m a great proponent of the use of twitter and other social media tools in learning, teaching, and communication. Students need to be made aware that whatever they post online is a digital footprint and can be traced back to them. If more of our admin and teachers were using the tools, this would likely be an easier conversation to have with the students as they have a relationship with them. At least more likely to have a relationship with these students than I would from over here in the board office.

I hope I’ll be able to have a conversation with the staff that can lead to a discussion with the students about using the medium appropriately, instead of a “stop using the medium” tactic.