Ilse's weblog of random thoughts

Busted through Facebook!

In my opinion, lots of people are very open when it comes to their discussions and comments on Facebook. I always avoid talking on Facebook about upcoming vacations or trips, not knowing exactly who actually can read it, especially when friends start to comment on it or on photo’s, making the conversation also visible to their friends.

There have been many news items lately about employees being fired over making racists comments or negative remarks about their work or boss. Today, most Flemish newspapers feature the story of an institution using Facebook conversations as proof for sanctioning two students who are believed to have cheated during an exam. Not only did these two act very suspîciously during the actual exam, they also made arrangements on Facebook deviding the exam content between the tow of them and afterwards bragged about it on the same platform. They both received a zero as score for the exam, and the Exam Committee of the Flemish Government ruled that the school could indeed use the Facebook conversations as evidence. I hope the two have learned their lesson!


Beware of your face… in Facebook

The last days I have seen several posts from my Facebook-friends regarding a privacy issue where third-party apps apparently use your picture.

ALERT: Facebook has agreed to let third party advertisers use your posted pictures without your permission. Click on “Settings” up at the top where you see the “Logout” link. Select “Privacy”. Then select “News Feed and Wall”. Next, select the tab that reads “Facebook Ads”. In the drop down box, select “No One”. Then save your changes. Do it now. Help your friends…cut and paste this into your status.

I have been working for 8 years now at the uni, where privacy and security are very high on the agenda (we often joke between colleagues that if one of our apps doesn’t work, there is a 99% chance the culpit is one of the firewalls). Thefor, I have become aware to these issues, and promptly changed that setting, and checked a dozen other ones. One can never be to safe, right?

Now, I became curious what was really going on, and found this interesting article ‘Can you protect your Image While on Facebook?’ in the NYT. The problem lies in the little adds that show up in the right pane of your Facebook screen. Facebook allows advertisers to use a program called Social Ads to show certain products I like (because I became a fan) to my friends and use my profile picture to draw their attention. Nothing wrong with that, when I become fan of a product or artist, I don’t mind, although I guess not everyone would feel like this.

It becomes a different story when advertisers use your picture completely out of the context, like happened a couple of times already. Imagine that you are a Facebook user, happily married, and you suddenly see an advert for a dating service with your husband’s/wife’s picture next to it. I guess you would be as shocked as this blogger, to whom it really happened. Therefor, with no further ado, change those settings, before it’s your face popping up next!

Teachers, leave my Facebook alone!

Lately, I have seen various blogposts and suggestions by teachers to use Facebook as a learning platform. At the CLT, the Centre of Languages where I studied Spanish, staff members are wondering if they could bypass the fact that they don’t have a proper learning platform by using Facebook with their students. From one of the teachers’ comments on Facebook itself, it seems that the students are not so keen on this idea. For them, Facebook is personal, and shouldn’t be used in the classroom. Continue reading this entry »