University of Wisconsin–Madison

Safe social networking

Joining Facebook is a matter of personal choice, clearly it can help you make social and academic connections, however, it can potentially put you at risk. UW-Madison wants to protect our students by educating you on the possible negatives of Facebook.

How much personal information should I share?

Users who share addresses, telephone numbers, birthdays, and even class schedules puts themselves at a greater risk for identity theft, stalking and harassment. This includes information you may post on your wall or someone else’s.

What should I consider as I create or update my profile?

Stop and think before you write a message or post pictures. Ask yourself if the information you are sharing is something you want your future employers, college administrators or your grandma to see. Even items you delete can remain on the Internet for years.

Can I protect my profile and only share it with my friends?

By clicking on “My Privacy” located on the left side tool bar, you can choose “Edit Settings” and the “Only Your Friends” setting. This will allow only the friends you approve to see your profile. You can also choose many other settings that protect your profile from general facebook users.

Do I have the okay of my peers to post their information and pictures?

In extreme cases, if a student posts information concerning another person, which later proves untrue, it is possible that user to be liable under defamation or libel. Postings of other people which have not been cleared, can be considered an invasion of privacy.

What is a “meat puppet” and why should I care?

A meat puppet is fictional account or fake personality created to pass as a real person. It’s sometimes used as a marketing ploy to attract new friends on social networking sites, thereby giving companies access to dozens, if not thousands, of email addresses with which to solicit new customers. A meat puppet (sometimes referred to as a sock puppet) may also be used to influence members of an Internet community on a particular issue or issues. Be skeptical of Facebook and other profiles that may represent marketing schemes, not real people.

What are the terms and conditions of Facebook?

Facebook and other online directories each have their own set of terms and conditions. Students should be aware that Facebook has ownership of any information on a student’s profile (including pictures) and can use the information any way it wants.