What University Facebook Pages Mean for Students
If you’ve been accepted to a college in the last few years, odds are you’ve received invitations to join some of your school’s official Facebook groups. These could include umbrella pages for the whole university, pages specific to your graduating class, or even pages designed for your residence hall and managed by an RA. Despite what you may have heard, these pages are not evil.
Most Facebook users have never been an admin for a Facebook page, so it’s not always obvious what permissions they enjoy. As a result, many students avoid these pages like the plague, worried that the Dean spends his days looking for evidence of underage drinking, vandalism, and other tomfoolery. Others worry the individual users of the page will be able to access their profile without sending a proper friend request. Fortunately, neither of these rumors are true.
As an admin of the HackCollege Facebook Page, I can only see what users post to the page, not anything else associated with their profile. I have access to broad analytics such as the number of fans we have from certain cities or countries, but none of that information can be traced back to individual users. I can click on the name of anyone who likes us, but I’ll only be able to see as much of their profile as their standard privacy settings will allow, unless of course I send a personal friend request. So basically, as long as you aren’t posting illicit photos directly to your school page’s wall, or using one as your profile picture, you have very little to fear.
In fact, there are many advantages to liking your school’s page. Incoming freshmen can connect with each other, or even find roommates. Your school can create instant polls to get student feedback on things like dorm ammenities, dining hall food, and campus events. You can even be the the first to know if classes are cancelled due to snow or power outages. The benefits far outweigh the privacy concerns, because frankly, there are none.
What you do need to watch out for though is if your school set up a profile (with full access to your information), rather than a page. A school setting up shop as a profile could be an attempt to spy on students, or it could be a university employee not knowing what they’re doing. Either way, don’t “friend” your school, “like” it. My high school once created a fake profile of someone supposedly moving into town that summer. It was clearly an attempt to spy on students, and it got really ugly once we found the 16-year-old Rhode Islander’s profile picture on a Brazillian modeling website. I don’t think many colleges are small enough or care enough about what you do on weekends to try a stunt like that, but it’s a stark reminder to make sure you really know who you’re friending. Liking a page though is perfectly safe, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t.
Do you like any of your school’s Facebook pages? Do they use them effectively? Sound off in the comments!