Recently, at least three print media commentaries were cautioning readers to be aware of how Facebook was “redefining privacy”. In the May 31, 2010 issue of Time Magazine, Dan Fletcher wrote an article entitled “Facebook – Friends Without Borders” where he stated, “As the colossus of online social networks prepares to welcome its 500 millionth active user, privacy issues are getting more urgent – and more complicated.” Likewise, similar Facebook-related articles appeared in our two local newspapers suggesting that readers should quit Facebook rather than fall prey to potential data mining. Undoubtedly, the concept of protecting and guarding one’s privacy is very important and one that teachers must help students understand.
Such a challenge can best be incorporated into Manitoba Education’s “Literacy with Information and Communication Technology (LwICT) Across the Curriculum”. This developmental continuum is composed of nine “Big Ideas” that are grouped into the two major Cognitive and Affective domains. Most educators, I know, have little difficulty incorporating the following Cognitive five “Big Ideas” into their inquiry-based learning:
- Plan and Question
- Gather and Make Sense
- Produce to Show Understanding
- Communicate, and
However, the remaining four “Big Ideas”, identified in the Affective domain, are much harder to teach. These include:
- Ethics and Responsibility
- Social Implications
- Collaboration, and
- Motivation and Confidence
True, in many cases, school divisions block on-line access to Facebook but often student comments made in the evening, on such social networking sites, spill over into the classrooms during the next day. As educators, we need to be ready, through “teachable moments” and planned activities, to discuss and help educate students about data shared through social networking sites and how best to guard their privacy.
Last October, Brian Bowman, a lawyer for Pitblado LLP, made a “Privacy Primer” presentation to the Computer Education Coordinators of Manitoba. Brian shared the following discussion-stimulating video, entitled “Ordering Pizza”, which all teachers should view and consider sharing with their students. This thought-provoking video, prepared by the American Civil Liberties Union, can be found at: http://www.aclu.org/ordering-pizza
I encourage you to share this video with your students and then ask students questions such as the following:
- What are the benefits of a country adopting a unique identification number such as Canada’s Social Insurance Number?
- How realistic is the “Ordering Pizza” scenario?
- Do you think such a portrayal could be realistic in the future?
- Review the category “tabs” (such as “Employment History”, “Voting Record”, etc.) shown in the Pizza Palace interface at right. Discuss what items individuals may want to keep private in each of these categories and additional information that should be kept confidential.
- Ask students to discuss what confidential information may be inadvertently released to social networking sites such as Facebook.
- Discuss whether their future job applications might be compromised by anything that they have said, or “friends” have said about them, on Facebook or other social networking sites.
- Suggest that if one is going to continue to use Facebook, they might consider “flooding” the Internet with the positive things that they do. e.g. volunteering in a hospital, playing on a sports teams, etc.
- Older students might be asked if the American Civil Liberties Union has any bias in creating this demonstration video?
As educators, we must work very hard with our students to educate them about the importance of protecting their privacy because as Deborah Jacobs has stated, “Technology has moved at the speed of light, but our laws protecting privacy are in the Stone Age.”
Take care & keep smiling
- Time Magazine – “How Facebook is Redefining Privacy” by Dan Fletcher at: http://tinyurl.com/32gjrw5
- Winnipeg Free Press – “You still on Facebook? Why?” by Shannon Rupp at: http://tinyurl.com/3x3ktxh
- Winnipeg Sun – “Toronto duo push ‘Quit Facebook Day’” by Lauren La Rose at: http://tinyurl.com/25a27ax