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BLOGGING  January 2006

BLOGGING January 2006

Subject:

Beyond Blogging : Facebook not a grown-up playground

From:

Steve Cavrak <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

UVM Blogging <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 23 Jan 2006 14:32:37 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (150 lines)

Facebook not a grown-up playground
By Vanessa Valensuela
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, January 20, 2006
http://wildcat.arizona.edu/papers/98/241/03_1.html

"So, ladies, I saw that there are some pretty interesting photos of  
you all on
that Facebook Web site." These words - spoken not by a friend or  
fellow student,
but by my landlord - ushered in a wave of dread. Panic-stricken, I  
attempted to
recall every note on my profile's wall and every picture I had posted  
from
recent date dashes and parties.

When the popularity of www.facebook.com mushroomed last year and  
students across
the nation began adding profiles at staggering rates, the biggest  
concern was
parents' fear of cyber-stalking.

Now that students have grown accustomed to posting every detail of  
their lives,
from the mundane to the torrid, on their profiles, they need to show  
a little
more restraint. On many profiles, discretion takes a back seat to  
showing off
Thursday night's killer keg stand or commenting on Friday night's  
hook up.

The sense of community created by Facebook and the assumption that  
only fellow
students are able to access profiles have created for many a blasť  
attitude
about posting comments or pictures of themselves being "college kids."

However, students must keep in mind that university e-mail addresses  
are not
limited to undergraduate students; a variety of other people have  
access to
their Facebook profiles, including administrators, faculty members  
and the
University of Arizona Police Department.

It has taken the use of Facebook comments and photos as evidence in  
cases
brought by administrators and police to remind students that the  
Facebook is
accessible to the public, making its content fair game for use in  
legal disputes.

For example, the University of California, Santa Barbara, recently  
instituted a
policy permitting disciplinary action if staff members come across  
Facebook
photos showing students violating school policy. Police at  
Pennsylvania State
University have been scouring Facebook profiles in an attempt to  
identify and
charge students who broke the law by rushing the field after Penn  
State's win
over Oregon State University.

At George Washington University, students took it upon themselves to  
prove that
university police were using the Facebook to find and break up  
parties. They
created a "Beer Party" on the Facebook and waited, digital cameras in  
hand, for
police to arrive. When squad cars rolled up, police found students  
sipping punch
and downing cupcakes frosted with the word "beer."
Photo
?
Vanessa Valensuela/columnist

As similar cases pop up around the country, students must face the  
fact that
their profile content may be accessible to a much wider audience than  
they had
anticipated.

The fact that there are e-mail registration requirements set by  
Facebook doesn't
necessarily mean that this wider audience only stretches to include  
those
affiliated with the university; it isn't hard for those who would  
like to view a
profile to simply find someone they know with access (as was the case  
with my
landlord, who had his daughter sign him in so he could check up on  
his tenants).

Some campus organizations have recognized how accessible the profiles  
of their
student members are and have attempted to remind students to keep  
information in
the public domain somewhat professional. Cherilyn Gain, a student  
team leader
for the Arizona Blue Chip Program, said the leadership organization has
discussed incorporating a workshop for its freshmen on how to present  
themselves
professionally on the Facebook.

Blue Chip is not alone: UA Residence Life has also tackled the issue.  
"As
resident assistants, we were encouraged to keep our Facebook profiles
appropriate to serve as a good example for our residents," said Kyle  
Tiemeier, a
senior majoring in molecular and cellular biology and resident  
assistant at Yuma
Residence Hall.

Patrick Call, associate director of residential education, confirmed  
that all
RAs are asked to sign an agreement that states that they will "use  
Internet and
computer-related communication, including Facebook, appropriately."  
He said that
content referring to alcohol use, even for those of age, is highly  
discouraged,
as it detracts from RAs' status as role models.

When asked, many students on campus said they were not surprised to  
hear about
Facebook-related entanglements with administrators and police.  
However, many
others admitted they were clueless as to the possible consequences of  
careless
posting.

Facebook administrators have done their part by introducing new  
privacy settings
that give users control over which parts of their profiles are  
viewable by the
public. It is up to students at this point to wise up to the less- 
than-exclusive
online community and exercise some caution when tending to their  
profiles.

After all, would you really want a future employer or a professor  
with a great
research opportunity to come across Facebook pictures from last  
year's spring break?

Vanessa Valenzuela is a sophomore majoring in economics and  
international
studies. She can be reached at [log in to unmask]

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