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Teachers and Technology: How To Limit Your Risk

Always ask your union representative.

  • Your union contract is in place to protect you. No matter what your principal says or what content you are confronted with, always contact your school’s union representative. If they are unable to answer your question immediately they will put you in contact with someone who can help.

Be aware.

  • Remember that federal law requires schools to monitor and archive any and all e-mails that are sent to and from employee accounts.
  • Teachers are legally responsible for whatever they post online (pictures, text, video, etc.).
  • “Anonymous” is rarely actually anonymous. Your identity is almost always knowable online.
  • Law allows schools to monitor key strokes and personal e-mail on school computers.

Know what’s out there.

  • Google yourself! Type your name into the Google search in quotation marks, e.g., “Sally Smith.” This will list all sites that mention you or anyone who shares your name. If any misinformation exists, contact the website owners immediately.
  • Monitor social networking sites (Facebook, MySpace, etc.) regularly for “inappropriate” images, posts, etc. If a friend “tags” you in a photo, that photo is searchable and potentially viewable by anyone. You can remove the tag from any photo you have been tagged in. Learn how  
  • When communicating with students via the Internet ,use sites like Blackboard or Ning.com, and avoid Facebook and MySpace.
  • Only use school-provided equipment to communicate with students electronically.

Use the protections that are available.

  • Make your Facebook or MySpace account private. Facebook has added a series of security and privacy features that teachers should use. Learn how
  • Hide your Facebook profile from the internal Facebook search and from Google searches. Learn how
  • Use the advanced Facebook Privacy features. In addition to making your profile and contact information private, Facebook also offers its users more advanced privacy settings. Learn how
  • Remove your Facebook and MySpace Accounts. Ohio and Missouri Education Associations warned teachers not to join MySpace or Facebook and encourages teachers to removing existing profiles. While AFT does not think this is necessary, you should know how to deactivate your accounts should you decide to do so. Learn how

Use Alternatives to Facebook and MySpace to Communicate with Students.

  • There are several alternatives to using Facebook and MySpace to keep in touch with students through the Internet. Two popular options are Blackboard and Ning.com. Blackboard even has Facebook Application and mobile phone application that connects students’ Facebook profiles and mobile devices with their class information on Blackboard.

Facebook and MySpace How-to's

How to remove a tag in Facebook

  1. Log on to your Facebook account.
  2. Locate and click on the photo.
  3. To remove that link click Remove Tag next to your name. This does not delete the photo; it simply removes your name from the identified individuals in the photo. To remove the photo you need to contact the person who uploaded the photo.
  4. REMEMBER: by the time you see the photo it may be too late, so you may want to simply remove all tags.

How to remove all tags

  1. Log on to your Facebook account.
  2. In the upper right hand corner click on the Settings tab. On the settings page, click on Manage next to the word Privacy.
  3. You should now be on the Privacy Settings menu, click Profile Information.
  4. Make sure the option next to “Photos and Videos of Me” is set to Only Me. Now you are the only person who can find photos and videos in which you are tagged.
  5. Click Save Changes.

How to make a Facebook profile private

  1. Log on to your Facebook account.
  2. In the upper right hand corner click on the Settings tab. On the settings page, click on Manage next to the word Privacy.
  3. You should now be on the Privacy Settings menu, click Profile Information.
  4. Make sure all options are set to Only Friends.
  5. REMEMBER: If you accept “Friend” requests from students, they can see your profile and post on your Wall.

How to make a MySpace account private

  1. Log on to your MySpace account.
  2. From the MySpace homepage, click My Account.
  3. Click Privacy.
  4. Make sure that the “Profile Viewable By” option is set to My Friends Only.
  5. Uncheck all boxes.
  6. Click Save All Changes.

How to make your contact information private

  1. Log on to your Facebook account.
  2. In the upper right hand corner click on the Settings tab. On the settings page, click on Manage next to the word Privacy.
  3. You should now be on the Privacy Settings menu, click Contact Information.
  4. Make sure all options are set to Only Me unless you want your friends to see something, and then select Only Friends.
  5. Some teachers want to be able to use Facebook for students to send messages; you can do this and still keep your information private by choosing Everyone for the “Send me a Message” option.
  6. To change a setting just click on the box and a drop down menu should appear, click on Only Me/Only Friends/etc. to change that setting.

How to hide your Facebook profile from the internal Facebook search

  1. Log on to your Facebook account.
  2. In the upper right hand corner click on the Settings tab. On the settings page, click on Manage next to the word Privacy.
  3. You should now be on the Privacy Settings menu, click Search.
  4. Set search visibility to Only Friends.

How to remove your Facebook profile from Google searches

  1. Log on to your Facebook account.
  2. In the upper right hand corner click on the Settings tab. On the settings page, click on Manage next to the word Privacy.
  3. You should now be on the Privacy Settings menu, click Search.
  4. Make sure the box next to the word “Allow” in the “Public Search Results” section is empty. If the box is checked then Google and other search engines can search the parts of your profile that are set to “Everyone.”

How to make a Facebook list

  1. Log on to your Facebook account.
  2. On the left side of your Facebook homepage is a list of links for things like “Photos” and “News Feed.” It also includes your networks and lists. If you click More, a longer list should appear. At the bottom of the list click Create New List.
  3. A popup window will appear allowing you to name your new list and then select friends you wish to add to it. To add a “friend” to your list simply click on their picture. To remove a “friend” click on their picture again. When you are done click Create List.

How to use a Facebook list to enhance your privacy

  1. Log on to your Facebook account.
  2. In the upper right hand corner click on the Settings tab. On the settings page, click on Manage next to the word Privacy.
  3. You should now be on the Privacy Settings menu, click Profile Information (you can do the same with Contact Information).
  4. Each privacy category allows you to click Customize in the drop down list of privacy settings. This allows you specify which lists and networks can see specific information on your profile.
  5. You can make a list of co-workers or students and exclude them from photos and videos, from reading and writing on your wall, or from any other of the privacy categories (Birthday, phone number, websites, posts to your wall, etc.). All you have to do is make a list and then click Customize under the specific category you wish to change. A pop-up menu will appear allowing you to exclude networks, specific people, and/or lists. Simply begin typing the name of the list you want to exclude and as you type, Facebook will display a drop-down menu of lists that match what you typed. Just click on the list when it appears in the drop-down menu.
  6. Click Save Setting.

How to deactivate your Facebook account

  1. Log on to your Facebook account.
  2. In the upper right hand corner click on the Settings tab. On the settings page, click on Deactivate next to the phrase Deactivate Account.
  3. Provide a reason for your decision to deactivate and click Deactivate.

How to cancel your MySpace account

  1. Log on to your MySpace account.
  2. From the MySpace homepage, click My Account.
  3. Click on Account from among the links along the top of the ‘Account Settings” page.
  4. Click Cancel Account.
  5. Provide a reason for cancelling the account and then click Cancel My Account.