Saturday, October 23, 2010

Facebook and U: The Dangers of University Email

A certain Midwestern state requires all of its state employees, university workers included, to undergo "ethics training." This year the state confirmed the dangers of using university email for anything personal--including logging on to Facebook. The training noted how wrong it was for a university employee to log on to Facebook with his/her .edu email.

Many still do not know how this "misappropriation" of "state property" can be a ready excuse to ax employees, expel students, decertify student groups, etc. (Fortunately, my university has a "reasonable use" policy but I won't leave it up to a campus cyber czar to determine what is "reasonable"!).

I warned about this last year and this official state warning ought to be heeded. Search for all accounts using your .edu address -- or be busted. Advice to private sector workers: this applies to you too even if you aren't bound by a state ethics law. Pick up a computer magazine and see the advertisements for network "sniffing" software aimed at detecting illicit use of work email.

If you think I'm paranoid, well read some of the real-life examples from my past blog posts: here and here.


Geoff Nathan said...

I'd be interested in knowing which university forbids Facebook access, especially since mine (and many others) have official Facebook accounts, and it is considered an error for a university not to do so in 2010. Furthermore, many departments also have FB accounts (Theater and Music departments often do). I wonder whether this isn't actually an urban legend....

i-History said...

Hey, Geoff! Long time, no see. Still in Detroit?

The point is that

a) the state actually pointed this out -- can't get more blunt -- and said it violated our ethics law for ALL state workers. So the short answer is "All of Illinois!"

b) other states don't ban Facebook per se (any more than they ban a single site). That is actually worse because it place one in a "gotcha" for "misuse" of email. It becomes arbitrary. Check out the links in my older posts (Big Brother U I and II).

Thanks for posting