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Social Networking and You

Social site icons"Social networking" is a general term that refers to blogs, sites and web tools that help people to connect via the Internet with friends, family, schoolmates and co-workers as well as to meet new people with similar hobbies and interests. The most well-known and widely used sites of this kind include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and MySpace. Some of the most popular blogging platforms include Google Blogger, WordPress, TypePad and Tumblr.

There is no denying the popularity and ubiquity of blogs and social networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter. Social networking has truly changed the way we communicate and share information with others in today's society. Millions of people use these sites daily and have made social networking a part of everyday life. However, like the Internet itself, these sites can be very beneficial yet, at the same time, harmful if not used with good judgment and caution.

Teachers, educators, and others employed in the public sector have good reason to use social networking tools with care and an eye toward discretion. Of course, our professional and personal lives should be separate, but that line gets blurred once you post personal information, photos and opinions on the Internet. (Read two educator's opinions in "Is Blogging Worth the Risk?")

Unfortunately, several bloggers and the users of many social networking sites have become victim to poor Internet judgment in recent years. One well-known example is Heather Armstrong. Several years ago, Armstrong made Internet history when she became the first person officially fired for blogging about her workplace. Her current blog, Dooce.com, has made her an internet celebrity, but she is still a cautionary tale of the dangers of blogging about your job. (See "Don't Get Dooced" from theglasshammer.com.)  Twitter and Facebook have had victims, as well. (See "Twitter gets you fired in 140 characters or less" from MSNBC.com.)

Be smart when blogging and using social networking tools on the Web. Learn and use the privacy settings provided by these sites, and above all, use good judgment when posting personal information. These sites are very much like billboards on a very busy highway. With so much traffic, you never know who will see you online.

Privacy Tips for Facebook:

Privacy Tips for Twitter:

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