Please Facebook Responsibly

facebook-logoFive years and 190,000 students from schools spanning 22 Ontario schools boards and independent schools. This is the incredible journey I’m honoured to live every day as I deliver a student, parent and administrator-focused self-titled workshop, “Facebook 101.” I like Facebook – a lot. I use it every day for a variety of purposes that embrace both personal socializing and professional business use.

With that said, the most common remark I hear from people is how, in some fashion, Facebook was responsible for a breach of their privacy or information (comments, wall posts, photos, etc) and how that breach caused reputation damage, a job loss, scholarship retraction – or more. While I am empathetic to these situations and understand fully the sense of violation that a loss of privacy has in one’s life, it isn’t Facebook’s fault. Really. In fact, here is an excerpt from one of Facebook’s Terms of Use: “WE TRY TO KEEP FACEBOOK UP, BUG-FREE, AND SAFE, BUT YOU USE IT AT YOUR OWN RISK. WE DO NOT GUARANTEE THAT FACEBOOK WILL BE SAFE OR SECURE.” That pretty much sums it up – and it’s what allows Facebook to step back when users come after them for tech glitches and ongoing policy changes that affect their lives in less than positive ways.

But let’s get to the real issue here. Facebook is not the villain; behaviour is. My research, in part, involves evaluating the overwhelming number of Facebook user profiles that have zero privacy settings in place. In many cases this is not a user’s first preference, but rather the inability to understand, fully, not only Facebook’s privacy setting architecture, but the ramifications of our Facebook Friend’s actions on our content. All that aside, the real culprits are users themselves. If you’re going to call in sick for work, don’t use the Facebook mobile app “Places” to check into the baseball game at noon then upload a photo of yourself shortly after your checkin topping up your draft beers while choking down a foot-long. I guarantee that some of your Facebook Friends are your co-workers who just got jammed for the afternoon with your workload. It’ll take them about five minutes to trot down the hall and illustrate your REAL afternoon to the boss. It happens all the time.

Another frequent post I see is the ultra-intoxicated, double funnel-swilling, obscene gesture-making individual who is in the running for either a prized scholarship or career opportunity. I have a folder full of public photos, remarks, controversial wall posts and real-life stories of lost opportunities that are “all Facebook’s fault.”

Knives came along centuries ago. They’re versatile in their use as they can be used to cut food and other objects, or kill. Either way, it’s never the knife’s fault. It’s the behaviour of the person with the knife. And knives generally don’t come with a list of warnings and precautions because safe use is assumed, as it should be on Facebook; common sense, discretion, understanding policies. If used correctly, Facebook is a great tool for all of us. And if not, reputation peril, lost opportunity and identity theft usually aren’t far behind. “Please Facebook Responsibly.”

One comment

  1. Hi Chris – you are right on – it’s not the knife that is the problem, it is the brain that uses the knife that ‘can’ be the problem

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