More and more professors are setting up profiles on Facebook, the popular social network that is redefining friendship. After all, being a friend on facebook may or may not involve actual friendship — all it means in the virtual realm with any certainty is that two people have agreed to give each other access to their Facebook pages. Culturally, though, these virtual friendships are starting to mean something on campuses, raising the question of what they mean to professors.
One of the first questions professors face is whether it’s OK to add their students as Facebook friends, as an article in this week’s Chronicle explores.
During recent reporting trips to campuses and conferences, I’ve started to hear that some professors, especially young faculty members eager to build their reputations, are forging professional networks using Facebook and other social-networking tools. Some even convinced me to set up my own profile, and lately I’ve been looking to befriend the most well-connected folks in academe to see how this social networking is spreading. If you’re a professor or graduate student who uses Facebook heavily (and not just to spy on your students), tell us about it in the comments section. Or, send me a friend request. —Jeffrey R. Young