Social Networking: From Facebook to LinkedIn and Beyond

Today I am presenting the third in a monthly series of adult education social media workshops through Rochester Community and Technical College. The first was an introductory overview session, and in the second we took a deeper look at Twitter: Social Media’s Gateway Drug.

Here are my slides. Note that many of the slides contain links to the referenced Web sites.

How do you take down a deceased family member’s Facebook profile?

From the mailbag this morning:

My son passed away Jan 10, 2013 and still has an active site on facebook.  A friend of his is posting messages from him in heaven to his family and we feel that this is inappropriate. How can I get this site closed?

Any suggestions on how this mom can take down her deceased son’s Facebook profile?

Anonymity is the Enemy of Community

In a conversation last week, I found the phrase that is the title of this post tumbling out of my mouth, and so I thought I must have heard it somewhere. Couldn’t have been original.

So of course I did a Google search to see who had said it. It turns out Google’s autocomplete function suggested “anonymity is the enemy of civility” and linked to an article in Fast Company by Seth Godin.

Many of my best ideas are probably inspired at least subconsciously by something I’ve heard or read from Seth. If by some chance you’re not familiar with his work, get a sampler.

So at least the ghost of Godin likely inspired my observation of the enmity between anonymity and community.

My formulation came up in a discussion of our early Mayo Clinic experience with our Facebook page. In the first year of its existence, from late 2007 to January 2009, we had exactly one comment I would consider negative, out of a little more than 100 overall wall posts. These were the earliest days of organizations or brands being on Facebook, and so the comment volume was light.

Of course back then we had only about 3,000 of what were then called fans, and now we have nearly 100 times as many “likers” of our page.

I see three main explanations behind the high percentage of positive comments on our Facebook page:

  1. People are generally happy with their Mayo Clinic experience. Our surveys show high patient satisfaction and willingness to recommend, which one would expect to see carried into online word of mouth, too.
  2. People who like you are more disposed to say nice things. Especially if they have already “Liked” you in the Facebook sense. Hard to “Like” and then turn around and flame.
  3. Most importantly, on Facebook people use their real names, and their friends see what they’re doing. So unlike the snarky flamethrowers hiding behind screen names on typical newspaper Web sites, they have some natural inhibitions to antisocial behavior. They’re less prone to comments that would disrupt the community vibe.

Anonymity is like alcohol. (Now there’s one for which I think I can claim originality, notwithstanding any relation to the famous 12-step program.) Alcohol removes inhibitions, which makes people tend to behave in a way they later regret when they sober up and have to face the consequences of bad behavior. Likewise, anonymity makes people more likely to be irresponsible in their online speech.

In the pre-Facebook era, the Internet was a lot like a drinking establishment. Not like Cheers, where everyone knew your name, but more like a rowdy biker bar with heated arguments, name-calling and the electronic equivalent of fisticuffs.

So my thesis is that online anonymity is almost never helpful, and that the “real names” movement essentially started by Facebook has been an important factor in making the Internet safe, civil and more community-oriented.

What do you think? What are the exceptions? When does it make sense to allow people to not use their real names in an online forum? When do other needs trump the need for community?

An Upgrade for SMUGgles?

When I visited the SMUG Facebook group this evening, I saw a message that gave me pause (click to enlarge):

From the language of the alert (and what I found when I read more), it appeared that the archiving function would migrate the posts on the wall into the new group format, but that everyone would be kicked out of the group and would need to be added again.


I couldn’t let that happen, so I went for the upgrade. One thing I saw immediately was that there was a LOT more activity. Here’s a screenshot of what happened in the next 26 minutes:

With, on average, one comment every two minutes, this certainly was an upgrade in terms of activity and engagement. Clearly that’s because of the change in email notifications, as evidenced by my Inbox:

We all do have the ability to control our level of email notices, as you wee when you click the Settings button for the group:

So, this will be an interesting experiment to see how a group with more than 1,200 members works in the new format.

What do you think of the new SMUG group? Are you going to adjust your email notification settings? If so, how?

Facebook 111: Customized Facebook Privacy Settings

In Facebook 110 I provided a basic intro to Facebook privacy settings, and how by selecting one of the pre-configured settings you can substantially control access to your personal information on Facebook.

And it only takes a minute or so.

This course will help you take the next step.

Shaun Dakin, a commenter on the previous post, shared a helpful post by Nilay Patel on using lists to manage your Facebook privacy. Check it out on Engadget.

Here’s my introduction to lists as a tool for managing access to your Facebook data. As I did last time, I have posted text to accompany and explain each slide.

Slide 2: To most effectively manage access to your Facebook information, you need to create lists of your various types of friends. To create those lists, you start by going to the Edit Friends link on you Facebook profile, and then clicking the Create List button.

Slide 3: Create your various lists to segregate friends you want to group together for privacy purposes and for group communication. Privacy controls are just one use for lists; you also can use friend lists to address messages in Facebook.

Slide 4: When you go back to your privacy settings and click the Customize settings link you will see that there are three basic groupings of information you can control. The first of these is things you share. You will note that there are several types of data in this category, and that you can have different privacy settings for each of them. The adjustment process is the same for all of them (and for the other categories as well) so I will show how to do that after introducing the various types.

Slide 5: The second category is Things others share. You don’t have control over what other people upload to Facebook, but by tweaking these settings you can limit who sees those materials. So, if you’re concerned that someone might upload a less-than-flattering or unprofessional photo of you, you can strictly limit who can see photos and videos you’re tagged in.

Slide 6: Contact Information is the third major category. For example, you probably would want to limit who can have access to your cell phone number, because if you’re like most people you wouldn’t want just anyone to call you on your mobile; you wouldn’t want them to consume your costly minutes.

Slide 7: This shows what you see when you click the button with the lock symbol next to each data type. You can limit access to your Friends, to Friends of Friends, or to Specific People.

Slide 8: This is an example of access management by exception. For this one, I have said all of my friends can see the items, with the exception of those on my Limited Profile, Professional and Blog Friends lists.

Slide 9: This is an example of managing access by limiting to specific people (those on my Family list and on my High School Friends list). In this category the only people who can see this information are those on one of those two lists.

Slide 10: When you click the Preview my Profile button, you again see how most people see your page. But you can also…

Slide 11: Put in the name of one of your friends, and see that page as he or she sees it. In this case, I put in my sister-in-law’s name, to see how her view differs from the basic view. By using this preview feature you can fine-tune your settings until you get them just as you want them.

Slide 12: Privacy settings are just one use for Friend Lists. In this slide I created a group called Facebook Addicts and included my wife, Lisa, and two of my daughters. When you are sending messages in Facebook, instead of listing the individuals, you can use a Friend list for distribution.

Slide 13: Check out other courses in the SMUG curriculum for more step-by-step training in applying social media.