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Social Networking Tips
For Teachers

By Facebook Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan

Kids love social networking, but many teachers are leery of the risks of introducing the controversial technology into the classroom. Is it possible, they wonder, to engage students with the social networking tools they love, while keeping them safe from online dangers? Absolutely, says Facebook chief security officer Joe Sullivan. Social networking can be both educational and safe -- if you follow these rules:

Create a Friend List: If you're a teacher, you can create a Friend List called "Students" and adjust your privacy settings to control exactly what your students will see. For example, you might allow students to see your basic profile information, but not your tagged photos or wall posts.

Use Facebook Groups for Engagement: You can create a Facebook Group for a course you're teaching or a specific class project, and invite all your students to join the group. That will provide a way for students and educators to discuss relevant topics on a platform students love. There also is a Discussion Board where students can share their thoughts.

Share Rich Content: Use the Wall on your Facebook Group page to share rich content, such as news clips, interesting articles, Web sites, videos, and so on. Invite students to do the same.

Discuss Online Safety: Teach students about appropriate online behavior, including keeping passwords private, never talking to strangers online, and treating others respectfully.

Know Your Resources: Get up-to-the-minute, dynamic content especially for teachers at the Facebook in Education page, and check out safety advice for teachers.

Check Your School's Social Networking Policy: As an educator, you should make sure you're in compliance with your school's policies before opening a Facebook account. Additionally, it's always a good idea to notify parents and receive their permission before asking students to join Facebook. Explain to parents exactly how the tool will be used in the classroom -- and make sure all students are older than13.

Student Feedback: Ask students -- the digital natives -- if they have any creative ideas about ways in which Facebook can enrich their learning experience, both in the classroom and beyond.

Be a Safe Harbor: Make sure students know they can come to you with questions or concerns, or to discuss what to do in tricky situations they encounter online.


Teachers also can leverage free technologies to engage with students on a platform they enjoy, and can use those tools to share presentations, notes, practice tests, and quizzes. Facebook has many apps.

About the Author

Joe Sullivan is the chief security officer at Facebook, where he manages a small part of a company-wide effort to ensure a safe Internet experience for Facebook users. He and the Facebook security team work internally to develop and promote high product-security standards, partner externally to promote safe Internet practices, and coordinate internal investigations with outside law enforcement agencies to help bring consequences to those responsible for spam, fraud, and other abuses. Joe also oversees Facebook’s physical security team and the company’s commerce-related regulatory compliance program, and works on other regulatory and privacy-related legal issues. Prior to joining Facebook in 2008, Joe spent more than six years working in a number of different security and legal roles at PayPal and eBay. Joe also spent eight years with the United States Department of Justice as the first federal prosecutor in a U.S. Attorney’s office dedicated full-time to fighting high-tech crime.

Article by Joe Sullivan
Education World®
Copyright © 2010 Education World


Updated 09/05/2013