Facebook & Privacy?

Sarah Steiner, Learning Commons Librarian at Georgia State University, posted a link to the following video Does what happens in the Facebook stay in the Facebook?. The video makes interesting and disturbing claims about privacy concerns regarding the site Facebook. It quotes from the terms of service posted on Facebook, which I have to admit, I’ve never read. Here’s a quote.

“When you post User Content to the Site, you authorize and direct us to make such copies thereof as we deem necessary in order to facilitate the posting and storage of the User Content on the Site. By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing. You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content.” Facebook. 25.May.2007 http://colostatepueblo.facebook.com/terms.php

Naturally, I wanted to find out more about the validity of the claims presented in the video, so of course I googled the author. The video was created by Georgia web designer Vishal Agarwala (http://www.vishalagarwala.com/index.html). When I searched for his name, I ran across another post by Fred Stutzman on his blog, Unit Structures (here) that references this video. Stutzman points out seemingly contradictory statements in the Facebook Developer section of the site (which I couldn’t actually find myself). Some of the comments to Stutzman’s post include good counter arguments, especially refuting the allegations in the video about Facebook ties to the CIA and Department of Defense, which were provocative, but not well grounded in fact.

So what’s the bottom line? Well, it sounds like Facebook users grant Facebook the right to redistribute their user generated content, and Facebook promises to be ethical in its use of this content. Also, it requests that Facebook developers likewise respect user privacy. It sounds like Google’s “Do no harm” mantra. I suspect that most users, who like myself haven’t even read the terms of service, will only really become concerned about the possible privacy violations that could occur when they do occur. Until then, we’ll just keep posting with a refreshingly naive and trusting attitude. Be gentle with us Google and Facebook!

If you want to talk about this, sit with Ivan Gaetz (Dean of Libraries at Regis University) at lunch at the CALC Summit on June 1st. He will be facilitating a table talk regarding Privacy!


New Book on Social Software in Libraries Almost Here!

Meredith Farkas’ new book called Social Software in Libraries will soon be published.
According to the forward by Roy Tennant, posted on her blog, “This nuts-and-bolts guide provides librarians with the information and skills necessary to implement the most popular and effective social software technologies: blogs, RSS, wikis, social networking software, screencasting, photo-sharing, podcasting, instant messaging, gaming, and more.”

I was interested in her definition of “social software”. She says it must meet two of the following three criteria.

1. It allows people to communicate, collaborate, and build community
2. It can be syndicated, shared, reused, or remixed, or it facilitates
3. It lets people learn easily from and capitalize on the behavior or
knowledge of others.

Using these definitions, it is easy to make a strong argument for the role of social software in supporting instructional technology in today’s colleges and universities. It provides a very flexible platform for promoting dialogue between students and faculty, for supporting student research and writing, and for enhancing group interaction. At our campus, we use Blackboard. This system has some nice features, but if it doesn’t incorporate more social networking tools such as blogging, personal pages, and RSS among others, I think it is in danger of being replaced by a suite of freely accessibly open source products.

My 2 cents for the day. 🙂


Barack Obama Goes 2.0

Today, in English101 class, we evaluated different Barack Obama websites as examples of different types of sites for different information needs. This site is his campaign site and I found it very interesting. It’s essentially a MySpace for Obama supporters. It has many Web 2.0 features, including the ability to create ones own profile, invite friends to join, create a blog, and more. Here’s a screen shot:


This quote is from the blog on barackobama.com as an illustration of the personal connection Obama is able to generate with this type of site. “Andrew from Denver, Colorado has set up his own fundraising page where people take their height and then donate $10 a foot. He even enlisted “Hiro” the ice cream man to create his own graphic to help you understand…classic!
If you’re interested in helping Andrew reach his goal of $5,280 (for the mile high city of course), click here to help out – especially if you’re REALLY tall.”

Inside Higher Ed :: A Stand Against Wikipedia

Today must be wiki Friday 😉 A report from Inside Higher Ed, quotes Wikipedia officials’ reaction to policies by university professors that ban the citing of Wikipedia in student bibliographies. Note that neither policy mentioned was designed to stop students from using Wikipedia as a starting point for research, but rather to keep them from stopping there!

Jobs, News and Views for All of Higher Education – Inside Higher Ed :: A Stand Against Wikipedia
Wikipedia officials agree — in part — with Middlebury’s history department. “That’s a sensible policy,” Sandra Ordonez, a spokeswoman, said in an e-mail interview. “Wikipedia is the ideal place to start your research and get a global picture of a topic, however, it is not an authoritative source. In fact, we recommend that students check the facts they find in Wikipedia against other sources. Additionally, it is generally good research practice to cite an original source when writing a paper, or completing an exam. It’s usually not advisable, particularly at the university level, to cite an encyclopedia.”

Citizendium – Academic Wikipedia!

Here’s a follow-up to an earlier post, (https://rhondagonzales.wordpress.com/2006/10/30/can-wikipedia-ever-make-the-grade-chronicle-of-higher-ed-discussion/). While some studies have shown that Wikipedia is similar in reliability to traditional encyclopedias including Britannica, many academics have still felt nervous about the fact that anyone can contribute to Wikipedia. While the content is usually accurate, it is often incomplete and, what’s of more concern, it changes so frequently that it is very difficult to rely on. Today, a new project that has been in the works is, for the first time, allowing the public at large to register. Read the announcement below. Think of it as Wikipedia with an Editor! If you are an academic with special knowledge to contribute, think about signing up today.

The Citizendium (sit-ih-ZEN-dee-um), a “citizens’ compendium of everything,” is an experimental new wiki project. The project, started by a founder of Wikipedia, aims to improve on the Wikipedia model by adding “gentle expert oversight” and requiring contributors to use their real names. It has taken on a life of its own and will, perhaps, become the flagship of a new set of responsibly-managed free knowledge projects. We will avoid calling it an “encyclopedia” until the project’s editors feel comfortable putting their reputations behind this description.

Hot Books – Playing at the Library

One of our librarians, Sandy Hudock, thinks we should host a matchmaking night at the library. If you want to meet someone you come and hang out in the call number section of the library that represents your interests. Then you look for someone else with the same interests as yourself. In general, I think the idea of playing in the library is wonderful. Below is an example I read about on Jenny Levine’s blog. It’s for a game they played at the New York Public Library – kind of a combination of tag and hide and seek with a book twist. Check it out.

Come Out and Play Festival » Blog Archive » Hot Books