"As students call for "poke" attacks and scramble to block Public Safety officers from viewing their facebook.com profiles, Public Safety director Steven Healy has issued guidelines establishing how officers may use the site.
Officers can continue to use Facebook as a supplementary source for investigations, but cannot scour the site for parties or other activities. In addition, officers are prohibited from identifying themselves as students in their Facebook accounts.
"I appreciate student concerns," Healy said. "The trust of students is very important. We must build and maintain trust to work in a synergistic manner."
University officials are also seeking to downplay Public Safety's past use of the networking site as an investigative tool. University Executive Vice President Mark Burstein, who supervises the Department of Public Safety, called the recent controversy "a basic conversation of what is public information in our environment. I believe in a healthy conversation about these issues. That's what makes Princeton a place I want to be a part of."
Burstein noted, however, that "if a student feels facebook.com is private in any way, that [position] is not supported legally."
"When Pennsylvania State University's resurgent football team scored a victory last October against its archrival from Ohio State University, throngs of students rushed the field and set off something of a postgame riot. Overwhelmed, campus police had difficulty identifying the perpetrators and made only two arrests on game day.
But less than a week after the game, Tyrone Parham, the university's assistant director of police, got an unexpected tip: Several students had posted pictures online of their friends storming the field. Campus police officers logged onto Facebook, the immensely popular social-networking site, and found a student group titled, unsubtly enough, "I Rushed the Field After the OSU Game (And Lived!)"
Within days, officers had examined images posted to the discussion group, identified the offenders, and referred about 50 students to the university's office of judicial affairs. "For us, it was just a matter of a couple of mouse clicks," Mr. Parham says..."
A growing number of colleges are moving to disabuse students of the notion that the Web is their private playground. The message: If you type something on Facebook or a blog, you better make sure it's something you don't mind being read by administrators, employers â€” or your mother."
From an article in The Christian Science MonitorFeb. 2006:
"This winter, teenagers at a Chicago high school used their Xanga websites to post obscene and threatening comments about a teacher, in one case suggesting her neck be "slit like a ... chicken."
Last spring, a girl at a different Chicago high school outraged students when she posted derogatory comments about gay marriage and blacks on her Web log.
The school district dealt differently with the two situations, defending the girl's freedom of speech in the latter while reportedly disciplining the three teens in the first.
The incidents speak not only to the murky territory of free speech in schools but to the challenges of educating in a cyber age - particularly with the growing presence of Web logs or blogs, those online pages that millions of teens use for journals, photos, dating, or chats."
Danah Boyd has posted several entries on her blog about MySpace - a few choice quotes:
"Adults often worry about the amount of time that youth spend online, arguing that the digital does not replace the physical. Most teens would agree. It is not the technology that encourages youth to spend time online - it's the lack of mobility and access to youth space where they can hang out uninterrupted.
... teens rarely choose to go private on MySpace and certainly not for fear of predators or future employers. They want to be visible to other teens, not just the people they they've friended. They would just prefer the adults go away. All adults. Parents, teachers, creepy men.
Because the digital world requires people to write themselves into being, profiles provide an opportunity to craft the intended expression through language, imagery and media."
OK, so what can students do to be safer?
The first suggestion should always be to use the Privacy Settings. The people at Facebook do encourage students to use the security options that let them keep photographs and personal data invisible to all but their closest friends. When students register, they are asked to choose how private they want their profiles to be.
Students can request that personal data be blocked from Facebook users who identify themselves as alumni or faculty or staff members. And they can choose to keep specific items that they post â€” photographs or contact information â€” visible only to people they have designated as their friends.
But many students don't use these setting, intentionally allowing open access to their information, since that's part of the appeal of the entire experience for them.
Only a few colleges have actually prohibited the use of online social networks. The University of New Mexico has installed software that blocks students from logging on to Facebook from university computers.
Campus police at several institutions, like the University of Kentucky and Northern Kentucky University, have disciplined students living on the campus who posted pictures of themselves drinking in dormitories. And some security officers say Facebook has become a tool, assigning officers to browse sites to get information about campus parties (Facebook also lists events on your campus).
"Having the site become a disciplinary mechanism was not part of our original idea," says Chris Hughes,one of Facebook's founders. But schools are well within their rights: "It's discouraging, but there's nothing we can do about it."
Additionally, there are stories popping up about prospective employers scanning these sites looking not just for incriminating photographs or odd group memberships, but also for information like race, gender, and sexuality - things that companies are legally prohibited from asking & using in hiring.
Your info might even hurt your parents' political career. Andrea Ellsworth, a student at Indiana University, has a father who is running for a House seat in Indiana, and his campaign wasn't helped by pictures of his daughter drinking beer on Facebook that were put on a political blog.
the lesson is - what you put on the internet is public - even if it's behind a password & login.
the discussion you post in a class using Blackboard is seen by the class, copied by anyone in that class, passed on to anyone they want to pass it on to, posted anywhere else you can imagine - AND the entire course is archived by the college and kept for as long as there is space on a server or shelf.
Just found this post today in 2013 and it's interesting to read it and see MySpace and some of the early fears - but also that things like privacy settings are still abused by services and under-utilized by users. the more things change...