A couple of recent blog articles about Facebook privacy settings got me thinking, once again, about the importance of informing parents, and other adults who live and work with teens, about how to setup social networking accounts to maximize privacy.
The first post I saw is on the Read Write Web blog. The article has a title that says it all, How to Friend Mom, Dad, and the Boss on Facebook…Safely. In the text readers find a clear rundown of how to use the various privacy settings on Facebook to decide what profile information to make available to specific users.
The second post I read appears on All Facebook: The Unofficial Facebook blog. The post titled, 10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know, looks at techniques beyond privacy settings for managing a Facebook account. For example, it discusses how to remove an account from the Facebook search engine and from Google. It also details how to use tagging and albums successfully so to help keep information private.
With these articles in hand, this is the perfect time for librarians to help demystify social networking privacy. How can they do this? By providing online and face-to-face training and discussions on the various techniques that adults, not just teens, need to know. What if your school or library sponsored a workshop during a PTA meeting where the adults in attendance learned about all the options there are for making various aspects of a Facebook account private? Maybe a presentation at a teacher in-service is the way to go. Or, what about a set of screencasts on social networking privacy options.
Recent research shows that teens are often smarter about online privacy than many adults. This information might be just what you need in order to sell the idea that teens should develop and implement programs for adults on social networking privacy. This could be a great way to give teens the chance to demonstrate to adults how smart they are about using social networking safely. It would also be a good chance to have teens discuss and think critically about how they do and don’t use social networking privacy options.
By the way, over the past couple of days I’ve been reading that the demographic that’s growing the most on Facebook is women over 55. These women may be parents of teens that you serve and they will want and need to know how Facebook works. Or, even if these women aren’t parents of teens, it might make a lot of sense for teens to help these Facebook users use social networking successfully. Inter-generational programming doesn’t have to be with youth and the retired set. Facebook privacy settings might be the perfect way to connect teens with Generation Jones.