We’ve searched the web for articles, blogs, and lengthy school policies on how professors should use Facebook and created a condensed version of the multitude of those tips. Here are the Rescuecom Ten Commandments of Facebook for College Professors (violate them at your own risk):
1) Thou shalt never, ever, send a friend request to an undergraduate student still enrolled at your institution. Almost every online resource that provides information of Facebook ethics for academics insists on this point. It’s by far the most important rule, so please abide by it.
2) Thou shalt accept student friend requests consistently. That is to say, either accept all requests from your students or accept none. Picking and choosing is a blatant display of favoritism, not to mention an easy way to get a zero on the “Instructor is impartial” question on your evaluation. (Nota bene, this doesn’t apply to students who have graduated. Once they’re out, feel free to reject and accept as you please.)
3) Thou shalt not comment on your students’ photos, especially embarrassing ones. Remember that you need to maintain formality, even when Facebook tries to do away with whatever formality is left.
4) Thou shalt not poke your students. No one likes pokes. They’re annoying and awkward. Imagine how awkward they are when they come from a professor.
5) Thou shalt be friendly and encouraging—albeit proper—when students share links with you or write on your wall.
6) Thou shalt not post anything you wouldn’t share with your students in person. Make sure you adjust your Facebook Internet security settings to limit what students can see.
7) Thou shalt not use your students’ profiles against them. When a student emails you with an excuse for missing class, don’t snoop around his or her profile to check the claim. That’s just creepy and cumbersome.
8) Thou shalt maintain an academic and professional tone to your Facebook—be an example to your students.
9) Thou shalt not post class material, syllabi, grades, or announcements on Facebook. Even if you are Facebook friends with every single one of your students, Facebook is still not a reliable way to make announcements because it lacks formality. Also, do you really want to give your students yet another excuse to be on Facebook.
10) Thou shalt not use social network services like Facebook in place of email communication. Email correspondence, once again, is infinitely more formal than Facebook correspondence—and you want to keep communication serious and academic. Besides, email can provide you with official records of correspondence if you ever need them. Imagine how odd it would look if you were to use Facebook transcripts in a plagiarism hearing, for instance.
It may be unfair to place so many restrictions on how professors and educators use Facebook, but it’s just another job hazard. Sorry, professors.
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