Professors on Facebook

I Facebooked Your Mom T-Shirt The Chronicle of Higher Education has an interesting piece on the pluses and minuses of professors joining Facebook. It creates some social issues, with some students feeling that their free speech zone has been invaded by the enemy and some profs worrying about fraternizing with those whom they are in charge of evaluating. It also provides profs with a previously unavailable intelligence avenue, which can both help provide useful insights for counseling students but also make it harder for students to get away with lies about dead grandparents.

Steven Taylor finds the chilling effect concept rather amusing, as “it shows how many don’t understand the internet—as just because one has to have an account to get into the system doesn’t mean that whatever you say there is therefore contained within the world of Facebook.” Indeed.

Were I still teaching, I suspect that I’d not “friend” current students (at least undergraduates) and thereby avoid most of the pitfalls. Not to mention that, for those of us old enough to have seen “Lonesome Dove,” the implications of being “poked” by one’s students and vice versa take on a whole new meaning.

Image source: Forget the Footnotes

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. NoZe says:

    As a former professor and Facebook member, I only “friend” former students if they initiate the process…I figure it would look too much like favoritism if I sought them out. The downside is that I have students wanting to “friend” me that I really don’t remember very well, but I don’t want to offend them by refusing them when I’ve accepted others!

  2. I have never actually initiated “friending” students –however, having current student as “friends” is actually useful at times as an alternative means of communication (a need that has arisen on a few rare occasions).

    The most useful thing for me has been when it is used as a communication tool for organizations like the political science club and even for individual classes.