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Tips for ‘Facebooking’ your prof

How many minutes do you contribute to the 700 billion minutes per month people worldwide spend on Facebook?



How many minutes do you contribute to the 700 billion minutes per month people worldwide spend on Facebook? No matter how often you log on, you should consider these tips and secrets for the tricky arena of online social networking to keep your Facebook account and reputation professional.

People have different networks including different groups of friends, professional acquaintances, family ties and more. So what happens when different networks become one on the Internet?

It happens like this:

A student and his or her professor both have Facebook. One requests a Facebook friendship from the other. If the request is not accepted, the requester may be offended. It makes sense for someone to want to network with professionals. At the same time, Facebook is useful for showing off fun shenanigans during late nights.

You wouldn’t want your professors to see you in that outfit or doing that “one thing” would you?

A recent article by eCampus News said 93 percent of college students at Lee University in Tennessee said they had friended an instructor on Facebook, and nine in 10 faculty members said they were friends with students on Facebook.

Natalie Nelson-Marsh, a communication professor at Boise State University, said there is an unspoken etiquette on Facebook that students and professors follow to keep the relationship professional. The unspoken etiquette is difficult to name, she said, but includes awareness, appropriateness and privacy.

Be aware of what you are posting and who will read it, Nelson-Marsh suggests.

Ask yourself before posting something: Is this something I want all of my contacts to read?

Students shouldn’t post things on a professor’s wall that is inappropriate. If it’s something that wouldn’t be shared in the classroom, don’t share it on Facebook.

Expanding on the privacy issue, Nelson-Marsh advised to send private e-mails for issues of concern and to create privacy profile protections so only certain information is available.

“I have not had any trouble with the few students who are my friends on Facebook,” said Nelson-Marsh, who uses privacy settings.

An easy way to ensure privacy is to create a friend list. The friends who populate the list are selected by the user and the information the list receives can be closely administered.

Becoming familiar with friend lists is a must-do. Once created, the list can be customized with just about everything from which friends can read your news feed to which friends can see whether or not you are in a relationship.

“When a student initially requests friendship, I add them with a privacy setting so that they can only see certain aspects of my profile. After graduation, I will change the status depending on the level of mentorship or friendship that continues,” Nelson-Marsh said.

The Facebook page, Faculty Ethics on Facebook, sets out guidelines for professors and their students. According to the page, professors should accept friend requests from students, and get to know them better when invited. The guidelines also say to take extreme care with privacy settings and limit profiles to relevant information.

For most professors, students posting updates to Facebook during class is the most common breach in etiquette.

“I would name the new rule ‘refrain’ when adding it to the etiquette book,” Nelson-Marsh said.