This is part three of an ongoing GirlGuidesCANblog series to provide GGC Members, volunteers, and parents with a better understanding of social media issues and best practices.
Part 1: GGC’s online strategy
Part 2: Girl Guides Online…Now and Forever
Part 3: Guiding Principles for Facebook
Part 4: Pictures Say a Thousand Words… and Then Some
Part 5: Girl Guide Tweets and Tweeps
Part 6: Guiding Online Searches
Facebook is here to stay.
I state the obvious so that we can immediately avoid a blog post full of tirades, tangents, and anecdotes about how the world has changed, the negative implications, social media fear mongering, and so on. Let’s instead focus on how GGC Members, volunteers and parents can choose to participate safely in a world that is one big social network.
GGC Members on Facebook
At the moment of this post, Girl Guides of Canada has approximately 3,800 fans on Facebook (and 2,000 on Twitter). About 60 percent of these are Members. While these numbers are not indicative of our actual level of online engagement (for more precise metrics, we prefer using EdgeRank, Klout, etc.), these numbers offer us a snapshot of the percentage of Members already using social media for personal and organizational purposes. A brief overview of their Facebook settings further reveals that they primarily keep their accounts private in order to control who can and cannot view their updates.
Privacy concerns for GGC Guiders and girls on Facebook
For newly arrived Members to the Facebook family, and for those just wanting to tighten their own safety measures, we suggest that you set your Facebook account options to Private. This offers a first line of defense that should be followed up with further account
When considering going online, it’s important to note that privacy issues also pertain to your photos. Your profile photo as well as your content can be used at will by Facebook. The only way around this is to choose a graphic image for your profile ‘pic’, or simply do not upload a photo at all.
**FUN FACT! According to a recent Pixable poll, women change their profile photo every 2 weeks (men change theirs every 3 weeks – reason unknown!).**
Photo tagging is another area to address. As you add people as your Facebook friends, you may consider asking them not to tag you (label a photo indicating that you are in it) in their photos. After all, you may not want to be flagged in a photo at a party, martini in hand. Because once you’re tagged, ALL of your Facebook friends – co-workers and fellow GGC Members alike – can now see that image of you! And if a friend still goes ahead and tags you – you can always untag.
When sharing on your Facebook page, remember that GGC Members must have a signed Image Release form (IR1) in order to be photographed and have those images used for Guiding purposes – both off and online. As girls in Guiding are minors, be careful
not to use their full names (first names only). It is best to identify a group
rather than individual girls. We know we’re stating the obvious here, but basically,
if you wouldn’t do it offline (e.g. put up a photo on a notice board with girls’ names), don’t do it online! Safe Guide rules and guidelines should still be followed in both instances.
A final note about photos and privacy: As you implement these suggestions you may not even be aware that your own phone can share information about you! Smart phones automatically geographically tag (‘geotag’) photos that could potentially share your confidential information with the public. A best practice is to turn off the auto geo-tagging on your Smart phone before taking photos in general.
Age restrictions for Facebook Users
According to Facebook terms and conditions, users must be 13 years old or older (and so it goes for most other online platforms like Twitter and Foursquare). However, a recent study revealed that over 7.5 million Facebook users are underage. Where does that leave us and other girl organizations concerned with safety, privacy and cyber bullying issues?
We have yet to see. In the interim, we can only say – don’t sign up your child for a Facebook account and let her roam freely if she is under (and over) thirteen. This seems logical for all children under 18, don’t you think so?
GGC Facebook Fan Pages vs GGC Groups
Provincial Councils, Unit Leaders and Girls themselves have asked us recently about recommendations for deciding on the type of page to set up on Facebook. The choice between a Fan Page and a Group page will likely depend on these few factors:
A Facebook Page (GGC National administers a Fan Page)
- The administrator of a Fan Page remains anonymous
- Can be found in a search
- Updates show up on your fan’s pages, helping increase your audience reach
A Facebook Group
- Functions primarily as a message board and the administrator of a Group is visible to every group member
- Generally used to support a cause or common interest
- Cannot be found by non Fan Page fans and updates do not show up on your member pages
It’s a challenge to educate a large audience about safe Facebook usage. These are just some of the issues that come to mind. We’ve tried to offer here some links to resources to help you follow our recommendations.
Do you have specific questions about Facebook as a Guider, adult or girl Member? We’d be happy to answer them – or at least try!
By Talya, GGC staff
Have a comment about this post? Click the link “Leave/Add a Comment”. We’d love to hear from you! Likewise, share this with a friend!
Another important part of keeping your facebook settings private is to make sure you’re using a secure browser setting. Look at the URL when you’ve logged into Facebook and see if it says “https://”
If it only says “http” without the ‘s’, you’re not secure, so you need to change that!
Go to Account -> Account Settings -> Account Security -> check the box that says “browse facebook on a secure connection”
Excellent point Cara! The browser would pose a privacy problem and this is a great addition to the post. Someone also added on our Facebook page that she friended somoene who ended up misconstruing her FB comments and she got in hot water with her Provincial Council. It’s important to consider WHO you friend (she is no longer friend’s with the woman involved).
Great blog! Good info. My Ranger Unit recently set up a Facebook Page to promote a service project we are involved in. It has been a lot of fun. If you are interested search “New York or Bust”.
We’ve just checked it out and LIKED it! Thanks for sharing with us – and good luck of course with New York or Bust!
Great reminders about Facebook settings – especially for those who are new to Facebook or aren’t comfortable with internet safety.
I never post photos of the girls’ faces online at all. When parents sign the image release, I don’t think they’re considering Guider’s putting photos of their children on the internet on their own facebook pages. I’ll post photos of Guide Camp, special events, etc. but only photos that don’t show the girls’ faces at all.
Excellent point about possiblitiy of parents not considering online photo uploads and implications when they sign the image release (IR1) form. Perhaps this is something that needs to be clarified as we (and the world) moves more and more online.
I totally and fully agree with your comment about not posting photos of girls online, as I know I would not be posting their photos on public boards either. This is in sync with what many school districts do for photos of students in schools. Even with high school students in my teaching practicum, I never have posted their photos anywhere. Another thing, I never ever add students or girls as friends, it just isnt that kind of relationship. I have also been advised to change my name on facebook so it is difficult for girls/students to find me, and reduces the awkard refusals.
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