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e-Safety Thread, Facebook groups: a gift to framers in School Administration; An almost verbatim lift from my own blog (just as well I wrote it...) Originally Posted by powdarrmonkey I didnít ...
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    powdarrmonkey's Avatar
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    Facebook groups: a gift to framers

    An almost verbatim lift from my own blog (just as well I wrote it...)

    Quote Originally Posted by powdarrmonkey

    I didnít quite believe what I was seeing until I searched and found several other people noticing the same behaviour.

    For background, Facebook recently introduced the concept of groups Ė not in the sense weíve been used to, but more like lists. Groups are supposed to be to lists what databases are to bits of paper. You can add friends to groups to organise them, send them group emails, run a collective mailing list, and so on.

    Except that in practice, this is another really good way of exploiting lazy users. See, there are some things to know about groups:

    • you donít have to opt in to one; friends can add you and thatís it Ė no confirmation necessary
    • it seems that even if the group is closed, members can add other members without any controls
    • if youíre added and you switched off email notifications in general, you donít even know it
    • the group gets an email address, which sprays inbound mail to every member until they get fed up and switch it off


    The second point may be wrong Ė itís very unclear exactly what permission is afforded to a group member and when or where information about the group membership is published. Since my day job is in private education, this immediately makes me think of two terrifying scenarios:

    1. A student inadvertently gets added to a large group and nobody notices because there is so much other traffic. Whatever my other privacy settings, anything I or anyone else posted to the group is now visible to him Ė this is the same as the previous group arrangement. The difference is that he can now go on and add anyone else Ė Mark Zuckerberg himself even Ė without any kind of checks by the group administrator. A membership system like this quickly spirals out of control.
    2. Somebody with a grudge Ė maybe I took too long fixing their PC Ė adds me to a group with, shall we say, inappropriate or unsavoury content while Iím away on holiday and tips off the child protection officer. Better yet, he first sends an email to all staff expressing horror and asking them to verify this in case itís his computer lying. Now there are multiple witnesses to the fact that I was a member of this group, and I return from the sea side to find a P45 on the door mat.


    Unlike free software, I canít fix this. Fortunately, I have: enabled every email notification under the sun; few and trustworthy friends; according to my profile, no interests or contact details whatsoever; and no care for groups. Iím happy with my lists, thanks all the same.

  2. Thanks to powdarrmonkey from:

    elsiegee40 (10th November 2010)

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    elsiegee40's Avatar
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    Thanks for this... I'm off to do some investigation

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    I've been waiting for the first major blow-up over this since it came in a few weeks back. As usual it's typical of Facebook's two-faced attitude to the way people use their site. On the one hand, they want you to make as many connections as possible in order to build their data pool for advertisers. On the other hand, their privacy model is based on the assertion that you only add trusted people to your Friends list.

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    Quote Originally Posted by powdarrmonkey View Post
    Somebody with a grudge – maybe I took too long fixing their PC – adds me to a group with, shall we say, inappropriate or unsavoury content while I’m away on holiday and tips off the child protection officer. Better yet, he first sends an email to all staff expressing horror and asking them to verify this in case it’s his computer lying. Now there are multiple witnesses to the fact that I was a member of this group, and I return from the sea side to find a P45 on the door mat.
    Now who can I try this on......

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    powdarrmonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elsiegee40 View Post
    Thanks for this... I'm off to do some investigation
    I wonder if you could update your excellent privacy settings guide? One of the admin staff lost it the other day and asked me for a copy, but of course the whole model has changed since it was written...

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    elsiegee40's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by powdarrmonkey View Post
    I wonder if you could update your excellent privacy settings guide? One of the admin staff lost it the other day and asked me for a copy, but of course the whole model has changed since it was written...
    It was updated not long ago to include Facebook Places and, so far, I have steered away from general behavioural advice for Facebook; I've kept it to the practicals on how to update your settings.

    I think though, I am going to have to put more generic advice in as this kind of problem is not controlled by a specific setting. I'll see what I can do.

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