Protecting Yourself on Facebook as a Teacher (September, 2015)

Social Networking has taken the world by storm. There’s no better way to keep connected with friends and family, or to reach the far corners of the world in a matter of seconds. Social Networks themselves though, can be an online minefield if not used and set up properly.

As a professional within the Education sector it is important to stay safe online. Facebook has Privacy Settings that you can set up to suit you and your circumstances, you just need to know what they mean and how to use them. Luckily, I might be able to help.

Here you will find some recommended do’s and don’ts for you as a Teacher on Facebook, as well as an in-depth look at some of the Settings that Facebook has on offer.

Recommended Settings for a Teacher

Set Up Login Approvals

This method of added security can be applied to your Facebook account. This usually means adding a mobile phone number to your account which will be used in the event of your account being accessed by a person or browser that is not recognized.

Make Yourself Unsearchable

I think you’ll agree, you don’t particularly want parents (or past pupils) finding you on Facebook and sending a Friend Request, so to save the hassle, make yourself unsearchable. Only people you are already connected to will be able to search for you.

Change Your Post Privacy Settings to Friends Only

If you don’t change this setting, you could be at risk of sharing anything you post with the whole of the Facebook world. Best practice would be to make sure you have it set to Friends Only so that only those you are connected with can see your posts.

Review All Posts Before They Go Live

Unfortunately, you don’t have much control over what other people might post on your timeline. All too many times have people been tagged in posts that they didn’t want to be seen by their Friends. You can monitor your own timeline by ensuring that all posts have to be reviewed by yourself first.

Limit Your Past Posts To Friends Only

It’s all well and good making sure your future posts are locked down, but what about all of those embarrassing posts from days gone by when you were out drunk with your university friends?

Make sure you limit your past posts to Friends Only to avoid these being accessible publicly (or any other posts that you have published in the past.)

Be Aware Of How To Block Users

Despite the above settings, if something out of the ordinary happens you can always Block a user. When Blocked they will no longer be able to communicate with you on Facebook or see you in their search results.

Generally, Just Be More Aware Of What You Post

Privacy Settings on Facebook are there to help us lock down our profiles to suit our own needs and circumstances, but there are certain factors that we can’t control which means we need to be a lot more careful what exactly we post online.

Read through these examples to see what I mean:

Scenario 1: You took a photograph of yourself in a provocative pose while on holiday with your partner last year and uploaded it to Facebook. You made sure your settings were set to Friends Only. A fellow colleague, who you are friends with on Facebook, leaves her phone lying around for her teenage son to pick up. He is able to access your Facebook (because his mum is directly Friends with you and her phone automatically logs into Facebook for him) and he sees the provocative photograph. Suppose he then sends the photograph to himself via Whatsapp and shares it amongst his school friends…
Scenario 2: You’ve had a bad day at school, it’s been very stressful and a particular child has been playing up in your class. You vent your anger on Facebook with a post that says “Jimmy threw another chair today, not sure how much more I can take!” and you set it to Friends Only because you know your only Friends with a select few people, mainly just colleagues who might sympathize with you. What you don’t realize is that an old friend of yours (who you are Friends with on Facebook) is actually Jimmy’s Auntie and she sees the post herself, she decides to screenshot the post…

What Not To Do as a Teacher

Don’t change your name to just your First Name and Middle Name

I’ve seen many people change their name on Facebook to just their First Name and Middle Name in an attempt to hide themselves from other users. Not only is this a complete breach of Facebook Terms of Service, but for those of us that pull people’s names straight from Facebook to our mobile phones as contacts, it can also be an unnecessary nuisance.

If you have all of the correct Privacy Settings in place, there should be no need to change your name at all.

Try Not To Share Your Latest Bikini Selfie With The (Whole) World

All too often have I stumbled across half-naked pictures of people on Facebook or perhaps drunken photos from their University years. Just like you can alter the settings for posts on your timeline, you can also choose who can see the photos you upload.

When you upload a photo, be sure to check the Privacy Settings of the individual photo or album.

An In-Depth Look At Facebook’s Privacy Settings

Login Approvals

This can be used if you’d like added peace of mind that only you can access your Facebook account. It allows you to add your phone number. Facebook will then send you a security code to your phone if your account is accessed by a browser that it doesn’t recognize.

How does this protect me? Only with your mobile phone and security code can your Facebook be accessed on an unrecognized device or browser.

Read More about Login Approvals

Trusted Contacts

You can add ‘trusted contacts’ to your Facebook account that can help you access your account if you are locked out. (That said, being locked out usually comes from forgetting your password — so perhaps another solution is to not forget your password in the first place!)

How does this protect me? Facebook allows up to 5 trusted contacts that you can call upon to help you access your account if needed.

Read More about Trusted Contacts

Settings For Future Posts

You are able to select who you would like to see your future posts, either: Only Me, Friends or Public. If you decide to click Only Me, then anything you post will not be seen by anyone on Facebook. If you decide on Friends, usually only those you are directly connected to can see your posts, however, if you tag anyone in a post, then their friends will be able to see the post too. If you decide on Public, anyone with a Facebook account can see your posts — that is anybody, at all, in the whole world, they don’t have to be connected to you.

How does this protect me? This allows you to make sure that any posts you share in the future are only seen by those that you really want to. This is only future posts though and will not alter any of your past posts.

Read More about Post Settings

Settings For Past Posts

There is no quick and simple way to make all of your old posts completely private, but what you can do, is Limit The Audience for Old Posts on Your Timeline — this will change all of your posts that have been set to Public to Friends only.

How does this protect me? This is an easy way to make sure none of your posts are set to Public, so only people you are connected to can see your posts (and any friends of those that you tag in a post.)

Friend Requests

You are able to choose who can send you a Friend Request, either Everyone or Friends of Friends. What this really means is you can choose whether absolutely everyone can send a request to connect with you, or whether only those who are already connected to someone you know can (those with a mutual friend.)

How does this protect me? In essence, this is a funny one, because even if Everyone can send you a request — you still don’t have to accept — and it depends on your settings for Who Can Look Me Up (see below).

Who Can Look Me Up

This is referring to whether you will appear in search results on Facebook, with the options being Everyone, Friends of Friends or Friends Only. By setting it to Everyone, it means that if anybody searches for your name then you’ll come up. If you set it to Friends of Friends, then those who are connected to you and those who have a common connection (mutual friend) with you will be able to see you in their search. Friends means that only your connections will find you.

How does this protect me? This means that you can decide how ‘searchable’ you are.

Read More about Search Settings

Who Can Post On Your Timeline

You can choose whether just yourself or your Friends too can post on your timeline. A pretty straightforward setting.

How does this protect me? If you are worried about what people might post on your timeline, then you can choose not to allow your Friends to post.

Read More about Who Can Post On Your Timeline

Review Posts Before They Go Live On Your Timeline

This is an option that you can use if you want to allow people to post on your timeline but would like to ‘review’ the post first.

How does this protect me? You can ‘review’ any post before it appears on your timeline with the options to show or delete.

Read More about Reviewing Posts

When Someone Tags You In A Post

You are able to change the setting relating to who can see posts that other people tag you in. There are many options here, all self explanatory, including: Everyone, Friends of Friends, Friends or Only Me.

How does this protect me? If you are worried about people tagging you in posts that you might not want to be public, it is best to keep this setting as Only Me. (You can always change the settings for an individual post if you wanted to.)

Read More about Tagging

Blocking A User

You can block individual users. This means they will not be able to see anything you post on your timeline, tag you in posts, invite you to groups/events, private message you or add you as a friend.

How does this protect me? Unwanted people can be blocked which means they won’t be able to communicate with you on Facebook.

Read More about Blocking Users

Find Out More

More information on Facebook’s Privacy Settings can be found here.

The content contained within this post was correct at the time of writing. Facebook update their Privacy Settings and Terms of Service periodically which means some of this content may become outdated and/or irrelevant in the future. (Sep, 2015)