Addressing Privacy Considerations with Social Media Tools

Addressing Privacy Considerations with Social Media Tools
Many instructors are incorporating social media into their instruction due to their ability to break down the walls of the institution. But with privacy being more and more of a concern today, it is a good idea to provide students with information on privacy settings for tools that you use in class. Here is the important privacy information to provide to students for some of the major social media tools.

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Many instructors are incorporating social media into their instruction due to their ability to break down the walls of the institution. But with privacy being more and more of a concern today, it is a good idea to provide students with information on privacy settings for tools that you use in class. Here is the important privacy information to provide to students for some of the major social media tools. Facebook Facebook user's privacy settings (http://bit.ly/2FeGbP0) consist of an entire page that includes frequently asked questions about privacy, how to control who can see an individual's post, how to be sure only certain friends can see their posts, and who has access to profile and timeline information. However, buried deep down in the page is the information related to the public profile and cover photo information. Students should be made aware that their profile picture is public, meaning that everyone using Facebook can see that image whether or not they are friends with those individuals and whether or not they have enacted all privacy settings. If students choose to add a cover photo (the larger top picture on the main page), that photo is also available for public viewing no matter what other settings students have chosen. There is also a Facebook privacy checkup (http://bit.ly/1nBTHkz) that lets users review who can see their posts. Twitter Twitter tweets with a new 280-character limit are public by default and can include photos, videos, and links to various websites. Users generally must agree to Twitter's privacy policies (https://twitter.com/en/privacy) which includes Twitter's ability to collect, use, and share individuals' information across Twitter websites. Twitter's information collection and use policy is extensive and if users have questions related to this policy, they must complete and submit an online form. Not everyone typically reads software policies in detail and may be completely unaware of what types of information they are agreeing to share with companies. Be sure students know what they are agreeing to if you require them to create/use a Twitter account in your course. LinkedIn Privacy Settings LinkedIn's privacy default settings make most of its users' profile information available to everyone, including the user's profile picture, work summary, education, and past jobs. LinkedIn's privacy settings (http://bit.ly/2oQmohH) page is not as extensive as other social media tools, but it does allow the user to hide their profile photo from everyone. Users can also choose a block of followers and decide what, if any information, can be shared with third parties. It allows the user to choose who can see them as a suggested user if these other individuals have access to the user's email address. The default for this feature is for everyone to have access. There is an advertising preference section that allows the user to choose whether LinkedIn can use cookies to personalize ads. The default for this preference is “Yes” as are all the LinkedIn profile privacy, data privacy, and advertising default preferences. Students should be made aware of this if they are being encouraged or required to create or use an account as part of a course activity. In fact, if they already have an account, they should be reminded to review their settings as one of the first activities required for the course. YouTube Privacy Settings The YouTube privacy policy (https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/157177?hl=en) provides users with the ability to adjust three types of video and playlist settings: Public, Private, and Unlisted. Unlike the other social media tools already mentioned, YouTube provides the user with the ability to adjust these settings for each video they choose to upload to the YouTube website. These settings can also be changed by the originator of the video at any time. Subscribers will be notified of the change the next time they try to access the video. The Public video settings can be set so that the video and playlist can be seen and shared with anyone that uses YouTube. These videos will show up in anyone's YouTube search results and appear on any related video lists. Users do not need to have a Google account to access these videos. Private videos can only be seen and shared by the originator of the video. Other users cannot share the link nor will these links show up in a search or appear on playlists. Private videos will also not be posted on the originator's channel. This provides the originator of the video with a great deal of flexibility as to who can view these videos. These invited viewers must already have a Google account created to access these private videos. Unlisted videos are a bit different. These videos can be seen and shared by anyone with a link; however, unlike private videos, these people do not need a Google Account in order to view them. Discussing the privacy settings for each type of social media that you intend to use in your online course will not only benefit students with disabilities but will benefit any student who may not be aware of these settings, may be concerned about their privacy, or who has not checked these settings in a while. Next month, we will learn how to address accessibility considerations with social media tools. Kathleen Bastedo is an instructional designer at the University of Central Florida.