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This is not my sentiment, I just wanted to catch your attention. I did a presentation yesterday to a group of academic advisor's about how they can use social media tools to communicate and keep up with students. It was well received by most people but I received the email below and I wanted to get other people thoughts and reactions. Here is his main quote “ inappropriate for university officials, and does not teach students the need to follow institutional policies” read the message below and let me know your thoughts

Subject: British Article about Facebook


I enjoyed your presentation at the UAC Symposium yesterday. While I believe that communication with students via facebook is inappropriate for university officials, and does not teach students the need to follow institutional policies, I did enjoy the information and appreciated your insight. I thought you might be interested in this article from a British paper (I highlighted some lines in red).

Here is the article he referenced

Are you on Facebook? And is it ruining your life?

When it comes to picking up a boyfriend, 23-year-old Laura Levin

doesn't waste time with fancy chat-up lines and whispered sweet nothings.

"Are you on Facebook?" is her opener - and then it's back home to switch on her computer and get the lowdown on her potential new beau.

"One of the attractions of Facebook is that you can find out so much about someone before you even date them," explains Laura, a university undergraduate from Hayle in Cheshire.

"Their friends, their profile, their likes and dislikes, and the way they present themselves tells you everything you want to know about them."

Of course, such tactics may shock traditionalists, but in 21st-Century Britain the forging of personal relationships - be they romantic or just as friends - now has far less to do with locking eyes across a smoked-filled room than logging on to a PC.

In the space of little more than 18 months, the way ordinary men and women interact has been revolutionised by social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Bebo.

It's a global phenomenon but more so in Britain than in just about any other country in the world, and while the popular image of Facebook is that it is used by teenagers and students, in fact it is just as popular with everyone from professionals to new mums.

According to a recent report by Ofcom, four in ten UK adults say they regularly visit these sites, using them to build up a virtual network of friends through which they are able to exchange gossip and photographs and meet "like-minded" people.

Women, the research found, use them more than men and make up 57 per cent of those in the 18-34 age group.

Users spend an average of 5.3 hours each month on the sites and return to them an average 23 times.

Of course, those are just averages and the truth of the matter is that a whole generation of Facebook addicts is gradually emerging.

For the uninitiated, the site works like this - users create an online profile including information about their marital status, education and work history, as well as photos.

They then build up a network of friends by searching lists of online members and making contact with people they know.

Users have to agree to be friends before their full details are visible.

Those who have the time sit in front of their computers hour after hour, tweaking and "pimping up" their home pages and exchanging online banalities that few would have the nerve to deliver in a face-to-face situation.

(Consider the following: "Does anyone like the rain?" "No, it spoils my hair and I don't like the rain drops on my glasses.")

Some, however busy their lives, find themselves getting edgy if an hour passes without having logged on.

They are terrified that they may miss some nugget of gossip or newly-posted picture, and so lose face or be considered rude by their "friends".

At one level, it is easy to dismiss this new obsession as just an unhealthy waste of time - a case of couch potatoes being transformed into PC potatoes at the click of a mouse.

But others warn that it is a cause for more serious concern.

For starters, while these sites are often portrayed as having been created for altruistic reasons - to break down geographical barriers, to connect the world - the reality is that they are rapidly morphing into the most sophisticated forum for advertising ever known to mankind.

More pertinent still are the warnings of psychologists who say that their popularity reflects the "atomisation" of British society.

One's success on these sites is generally measured by the number of "friends" you accrue.

But in reality these push-button friendships are largely valueless and serve simply to paper over the intrinsic loneliness of people fast retreating from their communities to the safety of a computer screen.

"These are not real social networks," warns Professor Ray Pahl, from the University of Essex's department of sociology.

"They mimic the playground insecurities of primary school kids, piling up best friends to find their social niche.

"When people grow up and settle down, they realise that real friendship isn't about turning on the computer: it requires real effort and taking the rough with the smooth."

Scroll down for more ...

Of all the social networking sites, Facebook is now regarded as the most important player in the British market.

Created by Harvard students in the U.S. in 2004, it has 59 million active users - seven million of them British.

That makes this country the third biggest Facebook customer after the U.S. and Canada.

At present, the company is valued at £7.5 billion, but with more people joining each week, that figure just grows and grows.

The appeal of the site, as with all social networking sites, is the ease with which it allows individuals to communicate with one another.

Home pages can be customised to include personal details and photographs, and users can join a million and one different networks and groups.

These range from the geographical (such as "London", which has more than two million members) to the practical (advice on computer problems) and on to the plain ridiculous ("Is the Scottish Widow Up For It?").

But all basically provide a forum for users to meet new people and make new friends.

Through these friends, whose names and photographs are subsequently displayed on their home page, they meet more people - and so on and so on.

In this way, it is possible for a user to rack up hundreds or even thousands of friends.

But maintaining these relationships, keeping abreast of a tidal wave of tittle-tattle, quickly becomes an all-consuming business.

Alice Egerton is 23 and a full-time mum to Harry, who was born eight months ago.

She first signed up with Facebook a year ago and has been hooked ever since.

"I couldn't imagine life without it," she says.

"For me, it's more than just a website. It is a huge and very important part of my social life."

Alice now has in the region of 150 online friends, many of whom are young mums like herself to whom she turns for support and advice.

All well and good, but at the same time there's no doubt that maintaining these friendships takes an enormous amount of time and impinges on her relationship with her husband John, an assistant project manager with a construction company.

"Facebook is like another world, and the time flies by when I'm online," says Alice, who lives in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire.

"Sometimes it'll be 2am, John has gone to bed and there I am still online.

"Then, a few hours later, I'll have to get up to feed Harry and I am shattered."

So what exactly is it that she and this legion of British women find so compelling?

"It is like your own soap - there is always some snippet of news or someone uploading must-see photos," she says.

"It's the ultimate in nosiness. If someone says the pictures of their new holiday are up, I just have to see them.

"What were they wearing? What does their house look like? Facebook is the ultimate gossip - and that's why women like it so much."

Her husband, perhaps unsurprisingly, is less enthusiastic and often complains that she is "always on Facebook".

"In the mornings, I even pop on the PC for the few minutes it takes to heat up Harry's breakfast cereal, and whenever he's playing happily, I use the time for a quick Facebook check," she says.

"I always long for Harry to nap longer so I can have some more quality time on Facebook, and at night, after putting Harry to bed, I am bursting to go online.

"So after dinner I sneak off to the office in our house, only to find John following me.

"He will stand over me while I'm responding to people on Facebook, as if to say, 'When will you be finished?'

"It does make me feel guilty, because I know I should be spending time with John. I want to as well - it's just that if someone has contacted me, I feel compelled to respond straightaway."

John also fails to understand his wife's need to share every moment of their lives with people they have never met.

"I remember him being very cross when I uploaded photos of a romantic holiday we went on," says Alice.

"There was one particular picture of us kissing - which I felt said everything about how we feel about one another.

"But John was furious, saying it was private and that I shouldn't have put it on Facebook for everyone to see."

Laura Levin, meanwhile, has a staggering 500 friends to juggle.

"Not a minute goes by when one of them isn't sending a comment to me, or uploading some new photos or video for me," says Laura, a biology student.

"Consequently, I find there is always something new to look at.

"It is riveting and very addictive. Facebook is such a huge part of my life that it's hard to recall what it was like when I didn't have it. It's my constant companion.

"These days, I have no idea what is on television because I never watch it.

"Instead, as soon as I get up in the morning, the first thing I check is my Facebook site.

"From then on, it's on all day - and it's the last thing I check before going to bed at night.

"Last year, I went on holiday to Tenerife and Turkey but I still managed to check Facebook every day in an internet cafÈ or on my phone. I was desperate to know what was going on back home."

Understanding the addictive nature of Facebook and the shift into this world of virtual reality friendship is still a new science.

Psychologists are concerned that it reflects the breakdown of more traditional forms of community.

For example, studies have shown that in countries where family ties remain strong - in Italy and Spain, for example - social networking sites have far less appeal.

But in Britain, where the concept of extended family has always been relatively weak, the fragmentation of close-knit neighbourhoods means it may now feel easier to get to know someone a hundred miles away rather than the person who lives next door.

But the problem is that communication through keyboard alone is limiting: humans rely on facial expression, tone and touch to convey deeper emotions.

As a result, these online friendships rarely progress beyond the banal.

Professor Pahl, an expert on the subject of friendship, says: "I have looked at Facebook and am depressed by the triviality of it.

"It is all 'How do you feel?' . . . 'I have got a hangover' . . . that sort of stuff.

"It seems that people find they have to trivialise their lives somewhat.

"Some of the conversations are so banal - things you wouldn't even say at the water cooler because, if you did, the other person would roll their eyes and shut you up."

At the same time, opening oneself up and laying one's emotions on the line with people who are effectively strangers is not without risk, because it is simple for pranksters to create a false profile behind which they can hide.

In other words, the kindly mum-of-two to whom you have poured out your heart may turn out to be someone quite different.

"There is a lot of anecdotal evidence of this happening," says Professor Pahl.

"Once they've heard your troubles, they turn round and laugh at you. It has left people feeling very hurt, and even tipped some over into depression."

To avoid this, it is best to treat Facebook like a "game" - not to take it too seriously, and remember that true friendships are best nurtured face-to-face, down the pub or over a cup of coffee.

And when it comes to boyfriends, as Laura has herself discovered to her cost, Facebook is very much a double-edged sword.

Her boyfriend Tim - now her ex - used Facebook to track her every move, visiting friends' sites to see if he could find photographic evidence of what she was up to.

"That way he could see which clubs and parties I'd been to, and who I was with," she says.

"If I was not online when he was, he demanded to know why not.

"In the end, Facebook split us up. He found a photo that a friend had uploaded to the site, with me smiling next to a guy.

"I had no idea who this man was - it had just been a random photo taken on a night out.

"But Tim became convinced I was lying, and that I was somehow connected to this man. He wouldn't listen to any explanations and stormed off out of my life."

Then again, in the world of Facebook, when one door closes, there are many million more to open.

Find this story at
©2008 Associated New Media

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One thing I forgot to say... this is an article by the Daily Mail, which isn't completely a scandal sheet, but it is the voice of middle-class outrage in the UK. I don't know if any of you have been following or even know of the Amanda Knox case (the American college student studying abroad who is caught up in the murder of her English roommate), but the Mail has already tried, convicted, and executed her, and I think is now calling for the saturation bombing of the University of Washington (where she was a student).

So I'd take what they say with a big grain of salt. I know there are a lot of people out there who feel poorly about social networking media, but the Mail tends to treat things it doesn't understand with a certain amount of moral outrage.
I thought you might enjoy today's Joy of Tech ...
Steve, great cartoon, thanks for sharing.
We put out a whitepaper a few months ago about where students go for info during their school decision process. Campus websites were the #1 source of info, being used by 96% of students.

We also asked if it was appropriate for universities to create profiles on social network sites, and just under 50% of respondents felt it was appropriate (from last year's UCAS survey of 50,000 applicants). Less than a third felt it was inappropriate. Of students who felt it was OK for institutions to go on Facebook 96% said it was OK to use the network to promote the school. 87% were comfortable with schools contacting applicants via social networks.

We (I work with Academica Group) are offering a hybrid solution where pages are 50% school-provided content, 50% user-generated content, creating a student-friendly approach for institutions who want to jump onto Facebook (and Bebo, and MySpace, and Google's promised mammoth network)

Anyone that wants to gab higher ed on Facebook, just give me a shout anytime - I've been living and breathing it since I started here.
So I just thought I would post his follow up. And this is definitely follow the corporate line talk :(


I enjoyed the exchange of ideas.

Regarding the comment below, one of my department’s stated goals as part of the undergraduate experience is to help each student “learn to function as an autonomous professional.” An important facet of this goal is to teach students to follow institutional policies. I don’t believe that Texas A&M wants to produce graduates with noncompliant attitudes toward institutional policies. If we don’t [informally] teach students to comply with university expectations, we do them a disservice because they will eventually have to learn to conform to their employers’ expectations. For this reason (and others), I communicate with students via the officially-endorsed method: university email.

Here are a couple of analogies:

(1) Many students don’t want to get up for class at 8:00 a.m., but reality is that most of the working world is up and operating at that time. We informally teach students this expectation by starting classes at 8:00 rather than delaying them until 10:00. To delay classes until mid-morning would be a disservice to students, as most of them will enter careers that require traditional working hours.

(2) After graduating from A&M (way back before email existed) and entering the military, I knew to check the squadron bulletin board for official announcements. Not in my wildest dreams would I have expected the commander to place notices in my personal mail box. So unless I checked the bulletin board, I would have missed important information needed to effectively perform my duty. I don’t see any difference in A&M requiring students to check their TAMU email rather than expecting faculty and staff to conform to the students’ preferred method of communication (facebook).

Let me know your thoughts?
I think one aspect of Facebook that many people miss is that it is another option in communicating with students. And if a majority of your students show interest in communicating through Facebook, that becomes your most significant mode of communication.

When email came around, I know we all sat around and debated how this would replace the phone. The phone is still around and better than ever. Email didn't replace a communication medium that is timeless and effective, but we did go through the phase where mass communication finally made its way to email.

One critical aspect of communication is medium. If everyone is tuning in to Facebook but you, you are the one missing the boat. Ask people how they want to be communicated with.
And in other news, I received an email from a man purported to be from Ghana who offered me an opportunity to help him claim $2.8 million ... and when I sent him my money and didn't receive my bounty, I decided it's all Ghana's fault.

This is sort of where we are with developing a Facebook presence ... there are people resisting doing anything because of nightmare scenarios ("What if a student posts his Social Security # on Facebook?" ... we talk to admissions about their standards of letting in students who would be that foolish) and fall prey to the media-induced bogeymen on the topic. The biggest impediment to progress is always fear of the unknown, and the Internet is the latest manifestation.

My philosophy is that while we sure don't have the resources to do everything we'd love to do with Facebook or any other platform, we have 10.413 members of the SUNY Oswego network, whether prospectives, current students, staff or alumni. In the world of fragmented media, that's a large and energized base, with far more users (though some are certainly ghost ships) than our local daily newspaper has readers. I think we need to at least make sure that there is an accurate place on Facebook where they can get real answers ... with, admittedly, plenty of effort geared toward driving them to our actual college Web site where they can find all (official, verified, approved) answers.

Facebook is like the environment; we ignore its currents at our own peril. Many thanks to Matt for bringing up this very interesting topic.
Another issue to be aware of are viruses. We tend to only think about them in an e-mail context...but I'm sure we'll be seeing more in the future


Warning to all Facebook users: a new virus is going around that appears to infect the Facebook users' Friends lists. It sends out an email message with a link that asks you to download a plug-in to view a video. One word: don't....

"The Trojan is not new it’s only the attack mechanism that is. Clicking the link won’t infect anyone. The threat is only installed if the user downloads and executes the “codecsetup.exe” file he refers to. Since Gampass can also download and install other threats onto the computer there is not a single disinfection procedure available. The user sho... Read Moreuld download the latest virus definition files and run a full scan of their computer. Always keep antivirus definition files up to date is the only thing that will warn the users ahead of time. This doesn’t exploit a vulnerability so there isn’t a patch available. But the full system scan should disinfect Gampass and any other threats it downloads and installs."
working on this:
Matt - do you have a copy of your presentation? I'd love to share it with my advising team. Cheers!
I think Tim Nekritz of SUNY Oswego has it right a little more than some others. Facebook, the best example of the oncoming social web, is simply a medium. It is a very powerful medium to accelerate and maintain a sense of connection with others, independent of time and distance. It's replacing greeting cards, thank you notes, fruit baskets, letter writing, email, and photo development all in one broad swath. You can't stop it any more than you could stop the coming of the automobile. Something like 96% of college students spend an average of an hour a day on facebook. High school students are similar. The medium itself is blameless. Its the people and the policies that make it senseless or meaningful, destructive or creative.



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