At a meeting last month, I discovered that a senior colleague from another university has a Facebook page. I asked some other colleagues if they had Facebook pages and was very surprised to find that many did. Soon after, I got a request from someone to be their ‘friend’ on Facebook, and lately this has become an almost daily occurrence.
I have been consulting with my Facebook expert colleagues to try to figure out how to proceed. At present, I don't see why I would want to participate in this aspect of internet culture.
One colleague in particular has thought a lot about issues of faculty-student interactions via Facebook, and shared with me his personal philosophy:
- Always accept an invitation from a student to be a Facebook ‘friend’ but never send an invitation yourself;
- Don’t do anything with Facebook except reply to messages and post photos from student-oriented events; for example, don’t write on a student’s “wall”;
- If you look at your student-friends’ pages, be careful about whether/how you talk about it with them. This colleague never discusses with students what he sees on their Facebook pages, but another colleague once advised a student to remove some offensive material that might have negatively impacted that student’s education and career options if a potential employer ever accessed Facebook.
I have no interest in participating in this aspect of student life, but my colleagues assure me that it is worthwhile as long as you limit use of Facebook to professional interactions. My colleagues say that in their experience many students think it is cool to 'friend' their professors on Facebook, and only a few are bothered by it. I think I still need more convincing.
14 hours ago