Friday, June 17, 2011

I Didn't Join That Group....Did I??

Today's thought about befriending students on Facebook concerns groups. Soon after beginning to friend students I arrived home to find an open chat window on my computer. Several students I befriended had chatted with each other and another person who I was not friends with (another student, I presume) while I was away from my computer. I scrolled back through the chat to try and figure out why I had been included as I have not 'chatted' on Facebook for at least a year or two. I typically make myself 'offline' in the chat window.

Here is what I discovered. Once you are a friend of someone they can add you to the groups they create WITHOUT your permission. Students are fantastic at creating groups; this is the cyber equivalent of the clubs we used to create on the playground at school! Once the group is created the members can then have private chats which will pop up on your computer whether you're directly involved in the chat or not. 

The fix? Keep an eye on the left side of your Home screen. You'll see the list of groups to which you belong. If you see an unfamiliar group, click on it to check it out. Once you are on the group's homepage you can choose to 'Leave group' (see the right side of the screen). 

I've had to do this several times as students are quite proficient at creating groups and adding friends. My biggest concern is the scenario I described above with the chat window. Thankfully, the chat that was on my screen was harmless banter among kids. But what if it had been something darker?? As an educator it gives me pause to consider the information to which I am now privvy to just by being 'friends' with students on Facebook.  

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