All Posts Tagged With: "Facebook"
Privacy commissioner says consult before opening to kids
TORONTO – Some privacy advocates were rankled when Facebook announced changes to its policies last week that allow teens to post public updates that can be viewed by anyone in the world.
But Facebook has contemplated another rule change that could prove even more controversial.
Facebook’s manager of privacy and safety says the social network has “thought a lot about” opening up the site to children under the age of 13.
Because despite the current rules stating that you have to reach your teens before signing up for Facebook, plenty of young kids are using the site anyway, often with the help of their parents.
Why young people shouldn’t fear photos with beer
One morning in 2011, a 24-year-old Georgia high school teacher named Ashley Payne was called down to the office of her school’s principal and given an ultimatum. She could resign from her position or be fired. She hadn’t looked at a student the wrong way or practised corporal punishment. She had had a drink. To be precise, she had two—a glass of wine and a pint of beer, simultaneously, on a European vacation in 2009. The problem, though, was that a picture of this minor indulgence made its way onto Facebook, where—despite Payne using the site’s highest privacy settings—someone saw it, and brought it to the attention of the school’s principal. Payne took the high road: She resigned.
The “Facebook firing” is now an unfortunate fixture in Western professional culture, a warning to the working population at large that normal social behaviour, when captured and chronicled online, is aberrant and offensive. Having a beer after work—sometimes with your colleagues—is a socially acceptable activity. But upload a picture of that socially acceptable activity onto the Internet and it is rendered unacceptable. More than half of modern-day employers screen job applicants’ social media profiles for pictures like the one that implicated Payne, which means that this trend in cyberprohibition isn’t just getting people fired—it’s preventing them from getting hired, as well.
Prof. Pettigrew on digital scapegoats
When you teach at Cape Breton University, as I do, you get used to a certain amount of (mostly undeserved) sneering from those at other larger or richer or older Nova Scotia universities—which is more or less all of them. So it is always a bit of a guilty pleasure for me to see those same universities embarrassed by their students.
I must confess to feeling a little bit of Freude at the Schaden suffered by Dalhousie University this week when a report emerged that not only were many of Dalhousie’s engineering students failing their courses, but that they had determined the nefarious cause behind the failures.
Yes, according to the CBC, “dozens” of such students are in danger of failing out of the program because, say the students, they have been unable to resist the siren song of social media. At least one student quoted in the story is trying to solve the problem by cancelling his Facebook account.
Facebook is king but Twitter, LinkedIn grow
One in three anglophone Canadians won’t let a single day go by without checking into their social media feeds, suggests a new report by the Media Technology Monitor.
The report is based on telephone surveys with 4,001 anglophone Canadians in the fall and found almost seven in 10 Internet users declared they were regular social media users, logging on at least once a month. That figure was up by about six per cent compared to 2011.
Those growing numbers didn’t surprise Aimée Morrison, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo, who researches digital culture.
“It’s becoming a mainstream part of how we get the business of life accomplished and you’re at a disadvantage increasingly if you don’t do it,” says Morrison.
Educators have bigger things to worry about
Students looking to spill secrets about crushes or amusing campus escapades have a new outlet on Facebook. “Confessions” pages that post anonymous messages have been popping up at universities, colleges and high schools from Lakehead University to the University of Regina to Western University and as far away as Australia’s University of Adelaide.
The pages are being criticized by educators, who see them potentially leading to cyberbullying if the anonymity is broken. I don’t think they should worry. I think they’re fun, harmless and the risk of names getting out seems low. For the most part, these pages are a much-needed outlet for those wanting to vent or laugh, rather than viciously attack each other. Officials shouldn’t be so worried.
Confessions pages are reminiscent of Post Secret, a popular website that does the same thing. Both allow students to say things they wouldn’t post on personal pages or Twitter. The difference is that confessions pages are specific to certain schools, which may be why they’re getting scrutiny.
What students are talking about today (December 28th)
1. Randi Zuckerberg, the sister of Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, was upset that a Facebook “friend” shared a family photo (including Mark) with the entire internet. “Digital etiquette: always ask permission before posting a friend’s photo publicly. It’s not about privacy settings, it’s about human decency,” Zuckerberg Tweeted after Callie Schweitzer shared the snapshot with more than 39,000 followers. Schweitzer deleted the photo, but that didn’t do much good. Facebook has done more to make our “private” photos public than any other site, so countless Internet users felt schadenfreude that the founder’s family’s privacy had been breached. You can see the photo here (and many other places). Does this mean I have no human decency either?
2. Nathan Weaver, a student at Clemson University in South Carolina, wanted to figure out the best way to assist turtles in crossing the road, so he put a real-looking rubber turtle in the middle of a busy street near campus. In the next hour, seven drivers intentionally ran over the turtle and several more looked like they tried to hit it. About one in 50 hit the turtle. It takes turtles several minutes to cross roads, so evil humans could be the reason turtle populations are declining.
Hint: it’s not just those annoying “friends”
During the few moments of free time I have during midterm season, I surf the web and catch up on my social media profiles. As I recently did this, I heard a ‘ping’ come from my Facebook tab. After I excitedly clicked the little blue ‘f’, eager to read what new gossip my friend wished to dish, I was disappointed to find that the contact starting up the conversation was a semi-casual acquaintance from high school.
We all have those online “friends,” the ones where continuing a conversation is as painful as a trip to the dentist. My usual plan is to just ignore the message—waiting until this well-meaning individual moves on to what I’m sure is a riveting conversation with someone else. This usual strategy, however, no longer worked. Why? Because now Facebook has let the object of my avoidance know that I have read the message.
Online rants could hurt my future career
Writing was always an outlet for me. Whenever I felt emotionally constipated, I would grab my laptop and write my heart out. On top of the work I did as News Editor at Excalibur, York University’s student paper, I’d type out angry rants, poorly written fiction, and hazy recollections of childhood. One day I had the pompous idea that other people might like what I write, so I started blogging.
I ranted about unpaid internships, experiences in teacher’s college, and other embarrassing parts of my life. I managed to reconnect with a few old high school friends who came across my writing. My former teachers encouraged me to keep updating my blog. I was flattered that people were taking time to read my work. I was proud.
About four months and 30-odd posts later, I shut it down. Here’s why.
Why can’t we just enjoy the show?
Rock demigod Jack White recently left the stage unexpectedly early to the disdain of a New York City audience. No official reason has been given, but at the beginning of the show he had asked audiences to refrain from filming.
To ask this of an audience in 2012 is akin to asking them to refrain from using Facebook for a month. In all likelihood, the audience ignored that rare but understandable request and White was angered by their disobedience.
Either way, the smartphone is an now unavoidable vexation at virtually any major concert. The more prolific the song, the higher number of people reach for their phones to film the experience, rather than jump up and down like wild animals.
When did concert-goers become incapable of existing in the moment?
Supreme Court grants “A.B.” anonymity
A teenage girl allegedly defamed on a bogus Facebook page can proceed with a lawsuit without revealing her name, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Thursday.
The judges ruled 7-0 that the girl is entitled to anonymity to prevent her from becoming a victim a second time.
But the court also rejected her request for a publication ban on the defamation suit, as long as she is not identified in any materials made public.
The case made its way to the Supreme Court after the girl’s family appealed a Nova Scotia Court of Appeal decision.
The girl, known as A.B. in court documents, was 15 when she and her family sought a court order compelling Internet service provider Eastlink to reveal the identity of the person who had allegedly set up the fake Facebook profile about her.
Victoria student gets lesson in internet celebrity
Soon after Austin Knill told his friends that he’d started dating a girl named Sara Hartly, a photo showed up on his wall which showed an extraordinary Valentine’s gift from her—his face inked on her bicep.
The post lit up with comments. Within two days, Knill had received hundreds of Facebook messages. Someone—not Knill, he says—had posted the transcript on sites like Reddit and it had quickly spread as far as Singapore and the U.K.
Victoria student Sol Kauffman says profs talk too much
From the Maclean’s Student Issue, on sale now.
It’s 3 p.m. on a Monday and I’m sitting in my afternoon writing lecture. The professor has been reviewing PowerPoint slides for half an hour now. In one window of my laptop, I’m brewing ideas for the paper due at the end of this week; in another, I’m editing a photo shoot I did on the weekend. In my busy life, this is the perfect opportunity to get some work done. I half listen to the lecture, perking up when a question is asked. Lots of chairs in front of me are empty. Obviously the usual number of people are skipping class today. Maybe they’re sick, maybe they’re working a part-time job; hell, maybe they just slept in. In front of me, I see a student on Facebook, another writing in her journal, another texting on a phone. I know these students and they’re strong writers; I’m confident they’ll all pass with at least a B+. It’s not that the assignments are easy. On the contrary, we’ll all spend some sleepless nights grinding away at them. So why are so many of us absent, physically or mentally, from lectures?
And it’s a haven for racist, sexist trolls
Facebook. Twitter. MSN. Google Plus. There’s no shortage of places for students to chat, opine, or procrastinate during finals. Yet there’s a new digital obsession spreading across Canadian campuses. It’s called OMG and it’s simple. Students submit short “Oh My Gods” about anything. Then, they’re posted to the site.
As a Waterloo student who found myself distracted by OMGUW far too often in December, I got thinking about what makes it so hard to look away. I wanted to know what makes it so enticing that it has spread from Waterloo to Guelph, Saskatchewan and Toronto, with tens of thousands of views.
Prof. Pettigrew’s unofficial rules for social networking
Considering how ubiquitous social media sites are, it’s surprising that few universities in Canada seem to have policies providing guidance for how faculty members, or students for that matter, should use them in the university setting.
Some universities do have guidelines, like these at Brock, but they seem to be mainly interested in protecting the university’s brand and keeping the school out of lawsuits. Those kinds of guidelines don’t hurt, but they don’t help professors know what’s acceptable and appropriate.
I know some professors where I work wish there was a policy—my student is trying to friend me, what do I do? And my own observation reveals a wide range of attitudes as to what’s okay and what’s not. Some treat their student friends on Facebook just like everyone else; others never connect with their students and regard those who do with scorn.
Some activities may lead to lower marks
It’s common to use Facebook as a scapegoat for poor academic performance. That’s because a few small studies have shown that grades are lower among students who spend more time on the social media site. The assumption has always been that more time spent on Facebook translates to less time spent studying, which leads to lower grades.
But a newer, bigger U.S. study has found that Facebook time and study time are only weakly related. It takes many extra hours of posting and chatting before grades start to slip. What’s more, although the new study found negative relationships between grades and certain types of Facebook activities, other types of activities appear to be a associated with higher grades.
Website offers profs group therapy
June Madeley is annoyed with the increasingly rude demands she gets from students at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John. Ten years ago, it was common for them to see her during office hours when they had a question. “Now there’s an expectation that we’ll answer their emails immediately and meet them whenever there’s a good time for them.” And as surely as the leaves pile up on campus each October, the communications professor knows her inbox will soon fill with complaints about mid-terms scheduled for the week after the Thanksgiving holiday. “There are a lot of people who feel they can’t make the exam because of travel arrangements,” she says. “And others who think it’s unfair that they have to study that weekend.”
But when Madeley gets frustrated, she doesn’t fire off a snotty email to the student. She logs on to “That’s ‘Professor’ Uptight to You, Johnny,” a Facebook group with 297 members, all of them teaching at universities and colleges. The members-only site is a place where university educators can vent in the form of steaming emails they wish they could write to their students but can’t because that would be, well, rude. Madeley, who says she hasn’t posted yet, enjoys reading the rants from her colleagues. The site is run by Khrystyne Keane, a Connecticut-based editor for a non-profit group, who took over its administration as a favour to a professor friend. The logo—a unicorn standing under a rainbow—is a jab at students, some of whom feel they are every bit as special as the fabled one-horned horse and the multicoloured arc.
The posts are all written to anonymous Janeys and Johnnies, but they share one trait: carefully crafted sarcasm. “Dear Johnny, I suspect that if you had spent as much time and effort on your last assignment as you did on the long flaming email you just sent me, this whole ‘conversation’ would never have happened,” reads one. “Dear Janey, I want to assure you that we didn’t do anything important in class. We just stared out the window for three hours in silence,” reads another.
Nothing riles a professor more than asking about material covered in a skipped lecture. But Joey O’Kane, a vice-president of the University of New Brunswick Student Union, thinks it’s no big deal. He also thinks it’s reasonable to expect email responses from profs within 24 hours, preferably 12. “Professors have a pretty good gig,” he says. “You put in some office hours, you teach for a few hours and then you end up with a decent paycheque, so taking 10 minutes out of your day to respond to a few emails . . . I don’t think that’s asking too much.”
Kevin Maness, another Facebook member from Eastern University in Pennsylvania, recalls a student who emailed him a couple of weeks after the last semester ended and asked if there was anything he could do to increase his grade because he had been “too busy” playing basketball. Incredulous, Maness wanted to shoot off a caustic retort. Long before he had even heard about That’s “Professor” Uptight, someone else had addressed the same complaint with a post that read: “Dear Johnny, Just tell me the grade you want and I’ll change it in the book, because it doesn’t really matter anyway.” After joining the group last month, Maness has found it to be “great group therapy.”
When Maness attended the University of Pennsylvania in the early ’90s, he accepted that professors would challenge him. In return for doing the coursework, he was rewarded with the grade he had earned. Now, if he hands out a C-minus “it’s almost like a complete shock to them.”
So why the attitude? In their book Lowering Higher Education: The Rise of Corporate Universities and the Fall of Liberal Education, University of Western Ontario sociologists James Côté and Anton Allahar say it started when higher education became purely a financial exchange. Funding pressures forced universities to accept as many students as possible, even those who weren’t suited to academics, says Côté. That crowds lecture halls with students who shouldn’t be there.
At the very least, one educator feels students should learn to mind their manners. At the University of Minnesota, law professor Michele Goodwin added “civility” to her course requirements this September. “Failure to follow this guideline will affect your final grade,” she wrote in the class syllabus, explaining that emails should include the basic salutation “Dear Professor Goodwin” and not “Hey Prof.”
She even assigned practice email as homework. “It’s a bit awkward for professors to think, wow, this is actually my job now?” says Goodwin, who blogs for industry publication The Chronicle of Higher Education, “but it’s necessary.” If the new rules don’t work out, at least she has a place to commiserate. The professor can always join That’s “Professor” Uptight to You, Johnny.
Editor’s Note: I wrote this story for the print edition of Maclean’s. As both Profs. Maness and Magatha have pointed out in the comments section, it should have included more nuance. For one, I should have made it more clear that every single professor I spoke to for this piece exuded passion for teaching. Indeed, research shows that North American professors work on average around 55 hours per week and many of those hours are dedicated to helping students learn beyond the classroom—something they get little credit for. The profs. also made it clear that there are many students who don’t fit the stereotype of entitled. I agree. While it’s a challenge to decide what to include in the space allotted, I should have done a better job. I also want to note that there was a factual error in this story that was introduced in the editing process. Maness did not read a complaint “months earlier” from another professor who sarcastically offered to change a student’s grade. That was merely what he said he might have written had he know about the page at the time.
Florida teacher should keep his job: Pettigrew
Florida teacher Jerry Buell has been suspended from teaching after posting controversial comments on his Facebook page. The American history teacher was angered by a TV news report on the legalization of gay marriage in New York, according to Fox News. ”I almost threw up,” he wrote in a post. “If they want to call it a union, go ahead. But don’t insult a man and woman’s marriage by throwing it in the same cesspool of whatever. God will not be mocked. When did this sin become acceptable?”
School district officials say that Buell has crossed a line, that teachers are bound by special codes of ethics, and that a Facebook page is a public forum.
Nonsense. Readers of this space will know that I am an outspoken advocate for the rights of gays and lesbians. (This post, for example.) And I hasten to point out that Buell’s statements are, in my judgement, stupid and mean-spirited. But he has the right to make them.
A Facebook page is a personal expression of one’s own particular tastes and attitudes. Indeed, it is hard to think of any mode of communication more centered on an individual. Buell was describing his revulsion toward love unlike his own; he did not claim to be speaking for the Lake County School District, or for Mount Dora High School or for anyone else.
I have sympathy with those who believe a gay student may now be uncomfortable in this guy’s class.
But if the standard is whether someone could potentially be uncomfortable, that’s casting much too wide a net. If that standard holds, it could be used to restrict the expression of almost any comment on any controversial issue. Suppose, for instance, Buell had said the reverse. Suppose he had celebrated the gay marriage legislation in New York. Would some devout Christians feel uncomfortable in his class?
Probably. The question must not be what a student heard about what a teacher said on the internet. The test must be: how does that teacher comport himself in class? If he’s worth his salary, he should take special care to make sure that when controversial issues come up, he presents all sides fairly. I myself am a committed atheist, but when religious questions come up — as they often do in literary studies — I try to ensure that the discussion is appropriately balanced.
In cases like Jerry Buell’s, people are quick to point out that there are limits to free speech; of course there are. But in a free society those limits have to be clearly defined and enforced only when absolutely necessary. If being wrong on Facebook is a crime, who among us is safe?
As long as he’s keeping his opinion to himself in class, Jerry Buell should keep his job.
Rhode Island legislators say Facebook causes bullying
The U.S. state Rhode Island has passed an “anti-bullying” law that creates a state-wide ban on the use of social networking sites anywhere on school property. As The Huffington Post points out, that means students won’t be able to access the legislature’s own Facebook page, which could make it difficult for the government to extend its fan-base beyond the eight people who have “liked” it so far.
Learning environments need to be kept public
With yesterday’s announcement, the Ontario College of Teachers is likely trying to prevent as much social media abuse from both students and teachers as possible.
While most teachers’ first reaction is “duh” to the news that they shouldn’t “friend” their students in Facebook or follow them on Twitter, in reality this rule now exists because some teachers don’t share that same reaction.
Most teachers, and even most students, recognize that becoming Facebook or Twitter friends with a teacher presents a host of uncomfortable — and potentially damaging — situations. That’s why even university professors like Leslie Chan have strict rules governing online interaction with current students.
But in what is widely being described as a prudent advisory to set the appropriate tone for all teachers, the College is making sure the rule is hereby carved in stone. And it’s a good thing, too.
All learning should take place in public where the opportunity for teachers and students to take advantage of each other is next to nothing. Engaging with students in any unregulated online capacity — whether it’s Facebook, email or instant messaging — effectively closes the door on any checks and balances that currently exist in the school system.
It’s the same logic that keeps parents from letting their children spend time alone with a teacher in an uncontrolled environment. Even teachers with the best of intentions can get caught in some very hot water.
This is where abuse happens. Just yesterday a teacher in Idaho pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a junior high school student. The teacher was suspended by the school district after he was accused of impersonating a teenage boy and engaging in sexual conduct online with a 14-year-old student. He is now facing up to 25 years in jail and a $50,000 fine.
Students and teachers are a bit like church and state: They should be inherently separate. But just as in the separation of church and state, sometimes people try to blur the lines of division and must be reigned in. It’s inappropriate — and often criminal — when it happens, and we all shake our heads. But we have to recognize that it does happen and it makes rules like this one all the more necessary.
UWO student ejected from Harper rally for Facebook picture with Ignatieff
All you F-35 Joint Strike Fighter naysayers—this’ll make you bite your tongues. After all, the proof is in the pudding, and just this past weekend, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives proved the need to stay vigilant against enemies, many of whom can appear in even the most innocuous of forms.
Of course, I’m talking about 19-year-old University of Western Ontario student Awish Aslam, who managed to infiltrate a Harper rally in London on Sunday despite having a Facebook picture of her with Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. The audacity, I know. How the undecided voter managed to get in, I’m not sure; but she and a friend were escorted out of the rally shortly after signing in.
According to Aslam, a man led them to a back room, tore up their name tags, and told them they weren’t welcome at the event. “We were confused,” Aslam told the London Free Press. “He said, ‘We know you guys have ties to the Liberal party through Facebook.’”
I don’t know how many times we must drill this message home, but students: Please exercise discretion when posting things online! Yes, you may have a night where you down too many beers with friends and decide to ‘Like’ the Canadian Learning Passport on the Liberal Facebook page, but others will notice your actions! And it goes further than that. Every time you sign onto Farmville and don’t post a comment about the long-gun registry, know you’re making a political statement. For every occasion you send a ‘Poke,’ you should be requesting a fitness tax credit. And finally, never, ever, ever, refer to a group message as a “Coalition.” Vague insinuations are fine, though.
All parties want to encourage the youth vote, of course, but they can’t help it if young people disenfranchise themselves through mistakes like these. Young people should know better than to explore their political options before casting a vote –and worse yet–posting a totally meaningless picture online. Remember: don’t chew Big Red on Harper’s turf, unless you plan to stick it on the bottom of your shoe.