Facebook Privacy and Admissions Counselors: Know Your Settings

At this point, you’re probably aware of the frenzy over Facebook’s complicated privacy settings. Major news outlets are covering it, a Quit Facebook Day campaign started, and new Facebook apps are emerging that promise to secure your privacy again.

I won’t get into the big debate on whether or not Admissions Counselors should ‘friend’ students. This post is simply directed to those counselors that already have high school students in their friend lists, or plan on ‘friending’ them in the future.

So, you’re an Admissions Counselor and you’re now worried about the information friends can share about you. Rather than simply complain about Facebook’s complicated settings, or quit Facebook entirely, there’s an easy way to get a broad view of information your friends are sharing about you - and make changes.

Check out ReclaimPrivacy.org. It’s easier than reading through Facebook’s 5,830-word privacy policy (which is 1,287 words longer than the US Constitution).

ReclaimPrivacy.org walks you through the following steps:
  1. Drag this link to your web browser bookmarks bar: Scan for Privacy
  2. Go to your Facebook privacy settings and then click that bookmark once you are on Facebook.
  3. You will see a series of privacy scans that inspect your privacy settings and warn you about settings that might be unexpectedly public.

When I used ReclaimPrivacy.org on my own Facebook account, I had everything secured, since I vigilantly try to keep Facebook locked down. But, I decided to walk through the same process with a fairly Facebook-savvy Admissions Counselor at my school. She told me she had gone through and set her privacy in Facebook “a couple months ago” but has not viewed it since. Not surprisingly, we discovered some vulnerabilities. (Click for larger image)

Picture 1 Facebook Privacy and Admissions Counselors: Know Your Settings

I encourage you to take a look at ReclaimPrivacy.org and set your privacy accordingly - especially if you’re interacting with students on Facebook.

Photo credit: Kables

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This post was written by:

Web Manager - who has written 12 posts on .eduGuru

Web Manageris the Web Manager for Enrollment at Emerson College in Boston, MA.  He leads web marketing and online recruitment efforts for undergraduate and graduate admission.  Web Manageralso chairs the social media group at Emerson as they work on coming up with ways to use the social web to recruit the next generation of students. You can find him on Twitter at @mikepetroff.

10 Responses to “Facebook Privacy and Admissions Counselors: Know Your Settings”

  1. Says:

    Thanks for sharing, Mike. I just used this tool yesterday. It’s really easy to run.

    We’ll see where Facebook ends up considering the recent backlash. They’ve rolled back features after similar missteps before (e.g., Beacon). It looks like they’re introducing some form of simplified privacy control soon:


  2. Says:

    I also read about this on Lifehacker and thought your readers might find interesting — you can block sites from using your Facebook login:


  3. Says:

    I’m of the mindset that if you write it on the Web, it is discoverable. Privacy settings help, but are not foolproof.

    When Facebook makes changes, they generally set the defaults to be open. I was automatically opted in to Open Social, for instance.

    Whether or not counselors add prospective students as friends and/or accept friend requests, their Facebook profiles can be discovered by searching, by way of increasingly common tools that match e-mail accounts to social networks (e-mail and social are converging), etc.

    Aside from privacy settings, the “safest” approach seems to be a separate, dedicated counselor Facebook profile/page for recruiting purposes and a locked down personal profile. (Some go so far as to not use a full name on a personal profile. Just make sure if you go to such great lengths that you don’t use your work e-mail address, either, or it will be discoverable. See Rapportive, etc.)

    If a prospective student sends a friend request to the personal profile, you simply send them a message with a link to the other profile/page or add them as a friend with that other account.

    The advantage of the dedicated page is that you can use status updates to market your school more with without annoying your friends and relatives :)

  4. Says:

    @robinteractive Just a word of warning against creating a personal profile and a ‘business’ profile - it’s against Facebook’s Terms of Service.

  5. Says:

    Wanna fight? https://tweetphoto.com/22620376

    What just happened…

  6. Says:

    It is, indeed, technically against Facebook’s (ever-changing) terms of service, as is creating a profile for an organization, school mascot, etc. Those were all common practices before pages came to be. And the risk is the profile getting yanked.

    I actually prefer the pages route for admissions counselor “profiles” for work purposes for a whole host of reasons. And that (currently) doesn’t violate the Facebook TOS :)

  7. Says:

    Thanks for the helpful insight! We’ll be sure to share-great for all types of applicants, particularly as AdComs begin to accept videos and potentially take more of the app evaluation process online.

  8. Says:

    Thanks for this tool, it’s real easy to use and helpful. This really should get out there more to put some people at ease and allow them to continue using facebook.

  9. Says:

    Very useful information! I love this program


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