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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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Replies to This Discussion

I love it when policy comes before usability. But it just goes to show that Facebook isn't for everyone. If you don't get it, get off it.
Didn't spend the time to read the article, but I am sure this person will rethink their stance once they fall behind the curve.
"once they fall behind the curve"'s probably already happened ;-)
If someone DIDN'T object to it, I'd be shocked. Really, with as many people as we service, you will always find one naysayer. It's inevitable. You just have to ask if it's worth the effort to convince them otherwise.
After some presentations I've made around campus the biggest question I get is about privacy. Usually from people who don't understand enough about social networking to use it but have read headlines about FB and privacy. I try to let them know that we are careful about these issues but that we need to deliver our message where our market is - and 85% of them are on FB.
I surveyed our students last month asking if we made the foray into Facebook whether they'd use it. 1/3 said yes; another 1/6 said they'd join Facebook just to join our group. But some of the comments I got were things like "Facebook is too juvenile" and "I don't find Facebook sites or listservs or chatrooms very helpful!"

To each his/her own, I guess.
I read something somewhere recently -- how's that for vague -- that surveyed how many students were using social networking sites like facebook and myspace to research colleges. The percentage was surprisingly low. Seems prospective students would rather get college information from college websites -- the horse's mouth that is. I would venture to say that, in general, students take applying to college and attending college more seriously then we give them credit for and I don't think we have to wander into their social territory to talk to them. I think they are more comfortable communicating with a unversity official in a more official space especially when advising on curricular issues or financial aid requirements or transfer credits or whatever.
And the question still remains. Should a college or University make the efforts with social networking sites, or are they just a resource drain with minimal return on time and investment. Are there any real numbers out there indicating that this is a viable marketing venture? We go round and round about it, but I never receive any work orders for moving ahead with it.
There are two different uses identified in that post. Do they research colleges using facebook AND do they want to communicate with colleges through facebook. I would say the latter is the easiest for schools to get involved, but it's a very personal business.
our facebook presence is strictly to give admitted students a place to ask additional questions about our school so they choose use over the other schools they were admitted to. we let them ask more detailed questions about housing, the curriculum, how med school will really affect their social life, what kansas city is really like and to meet other admitted students who are trying to make the same decision. some schools achieve this kind of "community" through internal portals for admitted students but we don't have a system that accommodates that interaction.
I've never thought that "teaching students to follow institutional policies" was the aim of the university. We're here to teach, to create new opportunities for learning, personal growth, critical thinking, etc. That doesn't happen merely in the classroom. It happens in hallways, in forums, through e-mail, at the pub, at special events and so forth. If we want to communicate the opportunities available to our students then I think it behooves us to go to them.

I've been finding myself thinking more and more about redundancy. If we're promoting a special lecture, it's not enough to put up a flyer, chalk something on the sidewalk and post it on the event calendar. It also helps to include it in our email newsletter, post it on Facebook, announce it on the campus forums, display it on the campus plasma displays, etc. No matter how much we may want our audience to go to whatever space we designate as "information central," they've all developed their own habits. Some of our students haven't heard of our blogs, but spend days wandering about Second Life. Some read the newsletter while others call it spam. Some are addicted to Facebook while others are too cool for such silliness.

But if our job is to communicate to them, we can't force them to come to our info supply, we've got to push it out to them where ever they may be looking. Personally I find Facebook to be a bit goofy and overrun with applications (how many kinds of walls must I have?) but our Case Facebook network has 11,517 members. That's something I can't afford to ignore.
Thanks for all the responses, I sent a counter to his message to me including may of your points. I also included a article the Mark Greenfield posted on his site yesterday "Great timing" called Fear and Loathing in Web 2.0



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