Campus News

March 25, 2011

Take Note

Facebook privacy workshop March 30

How to protect yourself on Facebook

By Margie Fishman

Broadcasting witty status updates and sultry photos to the Facebook universe seems harmless enough, but ever wonder who actually has access to all that information?

"It's in Facebook's interest to share as much information as possible," says Brian Croxall, emerging technologies librarian and Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) postdoctoral fellow. "We are creating content for Facebook to monetize."

To encourage students, faculty and staff to think before they "friend," Croxall will teach a "Facebook, Privacy and Online Identity" workshop on Wednesday, March 30 at 12:50 p.m. in Woodruff Library Room 310. It is the sixth time the hour-long workshop is being offered during the 2010-2011 academic year. Space is limited to 10 participants. Visit the workshop page to register.

In the meantime, Croxall offers the following tips for Facebook users:

• Be cautious when sharing information with "friends of friends" and within "networks:" The average Facebook user has 130 friends, which means sharing profile information with friends of friends could involve airing personal business to 16,900 people. (Some people have amassed closer to 500 friends.) Also, pay attention to the amount of information that is visible to university and community networks, since these groups may include supervisors, professors and potential employers. This is especially important because once you leave a corporation or school, Facebook doesn't automatically kick you out of the network.

• Just because you meet someone once doesn't mean you need to friend them: Boosting Facebook friend totals is a competitive sport to many. But don't feel obligated to accept every friend request that comes your way.

• There are other social networking sites out there: To separate the personal from the professional, LinkedIn can function as a career networking outlet by storing a resume and professional references. Facebook allows users to restrict the amount of information on display to the entire Facebook community, such as limiting it to educational background and a personal website link.

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