kitchen table math, the sequel: Facebook Issues

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Facebook Issues

Do any colleges ask for full Facebook access from applicants? I've heard this is starting to happen at some job interviews. In general, I would like feedback about how people set up accounts with their kids and what kinds of limitations are imposed. I find Facebook somewhat creepy in how I'm sent potential friends of friends as if everyone needs to know everything about everyone. I really don't want friend requests being sent to my sister's complete mailing list. I also suppose it's a good idea to set up an account using a new or separate email - one that isn't called "partyguy6972". I know that one can control access to information, but is there a model that seems to work? I assume that you can group information and you can group friends. Ideally, you would would want each piece of information in a separate group, and you would want each friend to have access to only specific groups. Unfortunately, you would have to tediously set this up for each new friend. Even if you have larger groups of information, you might not want Aunt Sarah to see everything that's in the "relatives" group. I've generally ignored Facebook, but now I would like some real world feedback - not so much the extreme stalker/bully sorts of examples, but the more subtle issues of privacy and access. My son's account might be proper, but his friends' accounts might not.


Anonymous said...

I'm not on Facebook (or Google+), but it sounds like you want to investigate "facebook groups":

The standard warnings apply, however:
(a) Facebook has a horrible track record with respect to privacy,
(b) Partially because the Facebook business model is to sell information about *you*.

You can try to manage your privacy on Facebook (and Google+), but I suspect that in the end, pretty much what you post has a non-trivial risk of winding up public.

-Mark Roulo

ChemProf said...

You'd not only have to tediously set up different privacy settings for each new friend, you'd have to do it every time you posted a new album of pictures and for each piece of information. The big thing about Facebook for your son is he needs to be aware that such information is public, especially depending on how you've set up his privacy settings -- many of my students don't restrict their information at all which is a little scary. I don't think you'll be successful in keeping his privacy through privacy settings, honestly, because unless HE really cares, it is a whole lot of work. You can do a few things, like restricting access to his friends and avoiding the "friend of friends" option, which can really open the door to losing control of your information. What you can't do (or I haven't figured out how to do it) is keep friends from sharing your information -- my mother tends to "share" cute videos of our kids, for example.

I haven't heard of colleges asking for full Facebook account access, but it is common for admissions officers to encourage students to "friend" them through the admissions account. A colleague of mine has two Facebook accounts, her personal one and a second called "So-and-so Admissions" which she uses as a marketing tool to communicate with potential students. But it does mean she sees a whole lot of interesting stuff from some of them.

Anonymous said...

I have their passwords, so they don't have to be "friends" with me. I've told them that if they swear or do anything inappropriate, they're off. I don't check by often, but I want them to think that I could, and that so can others.

I've learned quite a bit about many of their friends that I think their parents might find a bit shocking. They need to know that not only is it really not private, but other parents have passwords of their kids, too, including the school board presidents, or the principals.

At one point my neighbor's daughter posted some seriously inappropriate photos. I was able to let her brother know so that he could "discover" them and tell her mother. Luckily, the mom got them removed before they got tagged.

I've seen them point their friends towards websites with anonymous postings that just turn into cyber bullying.

I find the privacy issues with FB to be incredibly annoying. I try to change the settings as soon as I catch them, but they make you do all the work. I've gotten to where I hardly look at it anymore because of this.

I've had things put on my "favorites" (like stores, or products) that I never posted myself.

The whole thing is just creepy, but I wanted to make sure I was keeping up.


gasstationwithoutpumps said...

Luckily my son (16 years old) has no interest in Facebook. No one in our family has an account, and none of us see any reason to. I have a Google+ account, but I've never used it.

If I want to make something public, I put it on my blog or on my web pages at work. If I want to keep something private, I don't put it on the web. Relying on Facebook to handle privacy at all reasonably is stupid, given their track record.

VickyS said...

I'm totally hands off. I figure this is something they have to figure out for themselves and am pretty much done looking over their shoulders in general, except for helping with the college admissions process which you pretty much have to have a PhD to figure out. When I was 16, I was left to my own devices, and although the road was a bit bumpy, the lessons learned the hard way were useful.

zaraward12 said...

Love it! Great choice & what a deal. I love the stainless with the white chairs. I wish we had Down East!

SteveH said...

Apparently, my son is the last person in his school without a Facebook page. The other students are talking about putting together a petition for him. He does have two YouTube channels; one for piano and one for card magic.

"Luckily, the mom got them removed before they got tagged."

Can you talk more about this issue? I don't know much about how one can lose control over information. If "friends" do things that you don't like, I assume that you can "un-friend" them.

I'm not much worried about what my son would say or how he might react to comments by others, but I do wonder how to limit or isolate damage by others.

I assume that a big problem is that one thinks that the friend of my friend is also my friend; that one gets too open without really knowing that person.

Anonymous said...

You can "unfriend" people pretty easily.

One problem I had was with my special ed son. He is very "young" even though he's grown. He mostly likes coupons and anime, and kid stuff, so I never worried about him and rarely checked.

Well, I noticed one day that he had a couple of men that he barely knew that were his new "friends". They were friends of friends of friends, or so the story goes. He really didn't know them. Well, they were engaging him (trying to set up a meet) that was disturbing to me. He was uncomfortable, too, so he did unfriend them and refused to answer. But I was surprised that he had allowed them in.

If a photo gets tagged, you can get it untagged, but if it has gone out to a bunch of people, I don't think you can get it back. So, someone can have a picture of you that you have no control over, and then tag it and send it to many.

Another time, and I think this was Yahoo and not FB, I was alerted that a friend of mine had commented at some blog. It even showed me her comment. I asked her if she knew about it and she said no. We both had to change our privacy settings (and the rest of our family's) to stop it. Again, I think that was Yahoo.

Someone out there probably knows more than me, but those were just a few of my experiences.


TerriW said...

Pre-motherhood, I was a unix sysadmin and though things have changed a lot since I was in that world on a daily basis, I learned one inviolable rule:

*** Do not post or say anything on any network, email, chat, text, website, WHATEVER unless you are willing for the whole world to see it. ***

It's like gun safety -- never point a gun at someone, even if you know it is unloaded. Because sometimes it isn't, even if you were sure it was.

At some point, you'll have to say, sure, it would be a pain if my credit card info was stolen or released out there, but it would not be the end of the world, and it's worth the small risk to be able to shop at Amazon.

But there are other things that would definitely *not* make the cut, and clearly people do not realize how not private things really are, regardless of how many buttons you click.

If anything, that rule has gotten even *more* true since I was part of that world.

Linda Seebach said...

Facebook does (or maybe did) a lot of things that compromise privacy more than you expect. They'll ask if you want help finding friends, and ask for your email password. That's so they can rummage through your address book. They assure you they won't store *your password* but they will store the email adresses so they can send you notices about someone whose address you have (or who has yours and said yes to that question).

Several activities you might want to try -- games, for instance -- have a signup process in which you agree to let them post things as if they came from you. I have a friend who does a lot of this stuff and half the posts "she" puts up are "Maggie played at Caesar's Casino" and the like.

SteveH said...

Thanks for the feedback. I know that my son won't do anything weird, but I have to try to minimize what his "friends" and what Facebook will do to him.

ChemProf said...

Well, I wouldn't worry overmuch about what friends post. He can delete anything that bothers him or that is offensive, and people in admissions certainly understand that you can't control what other people do.

Catherine Johnson said...

Steve - Debbie S knows EVERYTHING about Facebook, as does my sister. If you want to email with them, you should (I've got emails).

I'm not a fan of Facebook. I have a Facebook page, but it freaked me out enough that I stopped looking at it or posting to it.

Strangely, it's way too 'public' -- which seems a crazy thing to say, given that I write a blog that has my picture & name & contact info.

What I didn't like about Facebook is that I felt intrusive - mostly because at some point my sister told me I was posting too much, which made me paranoid.

I had no idea there was such a thing as posting too much.

And what does that mean?

Is it the same as talking too much?

Is it different?

With a blog there's no such thing as posting too much --- or, at least, there didn't used to be. I've never subscribed to a blog. I got to the blogs I read; they don't come to me.

But a student in my class complained that he was getting too many emails from me (for the English 109 blog) - because he had apparently subscribed without realizing he'd subscribed.

So now I'm wondering whether you can post too much to blogs, too.

However, I'm going to put that thought out of my head.

Basically, I couldn't figure out what the social parameters of Facebook were, and I had no idea what things were acceptable to say & what things weren't.

Catherine Johnson said...

My sister has always monitored Chris's Facebook page (thank God).

One time a friend of his put up a fantastically offensive joke about --- oh, gosh, it was so raunchy I can't even describe it here. Suffice it to say that it had to do with race and sex.

That post went directly to my sister's daughter's email, so she read it, and God only knows how many other people read it.

Another time, that same friend of Chris's hacked Chris's page. (He didn't hack it, exactly. He was here at the house and Chris's page was open.)

I'm seriously not a fan of FB.

Also, I'm not a fan of glowing feature stories about Mark Zuckerberg and INNOVATION!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm just waiting for Germany to outlaw the thing, which I figure is going to happen any day now.

Catherine Johnson said...

*** Do not post or say anything on any network, email, chat, text, website, WHATEVER unless you are willing for the whole world to see it. ***

right - that's my rule, but I don't think I've been able to keep to it strictly -----

For the most part, though, I've managed to.

Funny thing with the English 109 blog: I'm debating how much ignorance of linguistics and grammar to show. I've been hired to teach writing...and although I know how to write, I have pretty rudimentary conscious knowledge of grammar (and almost no knowledge of linguistics).

I'm trying to acquire that knowledge as fast as I can, AND, at least inside the class, it's fine to tell students that I'm learning these things --

It's a help, in fact, because when they ask me questions I don't know the answer to, they see me looking things up and reasoning things through, AND I have another opportunity to point out the fact that like me they have unconscious expertise in grammar (spoken grammar).

But to say, on a public blog, that I'm trying to figure out what adverbs are strikes me as a different proposition.

SteveH said...

"Welcome to the dark side" was a comment by a new "friend". Within minutes of signing up, he had 30+ friends, and these are not just his email list or friends of friends. More interestingly, they were all online and accepted. Many were amazed that he was finally allowed in.

The problems I see are the instant (and impulsive) nature of the process and the fact that everyone can see every comment unless you somehow tediously group and separate the friends and comments. He had three chats going at the same time - he just better be careful not to mix them up. And he has his relationship status set and pointing to his girlfriend - with pictures.

We went through all of the privacy options very carefully, but Facebook is really all about anti-privacy. It's not just about making your current social life more efficient. It's like having a really, really gossipy social director.

kcab said...

re: posting too much on FB, I saw an interesting infographic recently about reactions to different types of posts. Can't find it now, of course, but one thing I thought was interesting is that sometimes updates are posted without the user realizing it (by games or other apps, I think).

There are some blogs/RSS feeds that are too busy for me, for instance, Lifehacker.

ChemProf said...

*** Do not post or say anything on any network, email, chat, text, website, WHATEVER unless you are willing for the whole world to see it. ***

For Facebook, I'd actually use a slightly different rule (borrowed from a friend who was going through a lot and who loved posting on Facebook): "Only good goes on Facebook." When I see my students getting into trouble, that's the rule they break.

TerriW said...

I post a ton a fair amount on FB, but on the other hand, I'm nearly 40 and have been doing this Internet thing for a pretty long time. (20ish years? Wow.) That's a long time to have worked out public vs. private self.

It boggles my mind, the the weird and controversial things that I see friends post on a daily basis. I tend to stick to amusing but not controversial observations about daily life or things my kids said and steer far clear of religion, politics, etc. (Nothing that would prevent me from being hired somewhere should I need that again.)

Well, except for the math stuff. I do post about the math stuff. I guess that means when the math wars go nuclear, I'll be one of the first against the wall.

Catherine Johnson said...

There are some blogs/RSS feeds that are too busy for me, for instance, Lifehacker.


That's useful to know.

I haven't paid attention to the various ways in which these things have evolved. Back when I was first writing ktm, the idea was that you could never post too much (at least, as I understood it).

I haven't updated that to RSS/email feeds at all----

Catherine Johnson said...

It boggles my mind, the the weird and controversial things that I see friends post on a daily basis. I tend to stick to amusing but not controversial observations about daily life or things my kids said and steer far clear of religion, politics, etc. (Nothing that would prevent me from being hired somewhere should I need that again.)


I've asked myself, many times, whether this blog makes me unhireable by a public school, and the answer is probably 'yes.'

That's too bad; I'm pretty much a born teacher by temperament. I am SO loving being back in the classroom.

However, the likelihood that my gaining the necessary public school credentials AND applying to a public school seems pretty remote, so if ktm makes me unemployable by a public school, then that's the choice I've made.

For tutoring, ktm makes me more employable if anything.

Catherine Johnson said...

I tend to stick to amusing but not controversial observations about daily life or things my kids said and steer far clear of religion, politics, etc.

That's the whole problem for me ---- not that I want to post about politics and religion (I don't) BUT if I also can't post about education (which is also iffy)...AND I no longer knit, I've stopped cooking, I don't travel often.... that pretty much leaves me with Diet and Exercise as the only anodyne topics I can safely mention. PLUS since my entire exercise program consists of jumping rope 85 times before breakfast, that doesn't give me a whole lot of material, either.

I don't have a Facebook life.

Catherine Johnson said... many FB friends are going to be thrilled and interested to hear that I am having difficulty divining what linguists think a clause is?

Not too many.

Catherine Johnson said...

"Only good goes on Facebook."


Yes, exactly.

So important.

Catherine Johnson said...

For kids the really awful one isn't Facebook, it's .... oh gosh. Trying to remember the name. I'm going to go see if I can find it.

Catherine Johnson said...


I can't remember, and Google has failed to divine what I'm looking for

My sister will know

I read the site a couple of times and was horrified: it's young girls writing about sex and aggression, basically, and offering to perform sex acts on random men.

Anonymous said...

"it's young girls writing about sex and aggression, basically, and offering to perform sex acts on random men."

Doesn't this sound like an FBI sting operation to get *REALLY* stupid guys?

-Mark R.

Catherine Johnson said...

jeez, do we have FBI sting operations on Facebook?

kcab said...

No idea what site *that* is! But, the FBI comment reminded me of this video:,19753/

Not sure if that address will cause a problem.

Anonymous said...


And to all who are interested....the June Consumer Reports has a Facebook and Privacy article that goes into more detail about all of this. I'm in the middle of it now, and it's quite interesting.


SteveH said...

We just got it. Perfect timing.