Social Media: An Introduction

Social Networks, Blogs, Microblogs, and Protecting Your Privacy and Digital Reputation

Lesson Plan by Amy Craig & Eric Kleppen


Introduce topic (4 minutes total)

a. The importance of social media i. Today we’re going to talk about social media because understanding how to use social networking tools is becoming fundamental, as employers are using them as recruiting tools, and people are using them as networking tools. Question (Class can just blurt out answers): What social networking sites do you use? How do you use them? II. Overview of Social Media sites

a. Social networking sites (8 minutes) Question: Did anyone see The Social Network? i. Facebook: Facebook was created in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg and is currently the number one social networking site with over 500 million users. Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook while attending Harvard. Originally it was exclusive to Harvard students, but opened to the public completely in 2006.

Question for discussion: Why are websites like Facebook so popular? What do we “get” out of using them so frequently?

• •

Use the question to lead into blogging and micro blogging Make sure to highlight these during the mini discussion:  Social networking sites promote interacting through user generated content.  Sites like Facebook offer a complete experience - friends, games, activities, and creates a community-like feeling even when you’re alone.

Activity: Watch the video Question: Does Seth Godin make a valid point about online social networking? • Key points to lead discussion with:   Is it common to have real life interactions to people you only know online? Is it more a boost for the ego, or do you really feel connected to people while online or connected to an online community?

b. Blogs (10 minutes) • A blog is a type of interactive website used to share information and is usually updated and maintained by a person or group and structures posted content in reverse chronological order. They typically incorporate text, images, links and, most of the time, comments. i. Blogger: Blogger was launched in 99 by Pyra Labs. Blogger was revolutionary because it used online, embedded software to allow users to easily create and maintain blogs without knowing code or paying for hosting space. Activity: Class blog [start in class weekly assignment around blogging] • • • As the teacher, you will have already set up a blog using blogger. Have students take out a sheet of paper Write their email, first and last name, and an idea for name of the class blog on the sheet.

Collect them at the end of class

Activity explained: Once the papers are collected, the teacher will invite the students to collaborate on the blog. As the teacher, you will post a short article weekly on the blog or think of a question based on coursework, and the students will have to write a paragraph long comment in response.

c. Microblogs (5 minutes)


Twitter: Launched by Jack Dorsey in 2006, Twitter is a microblog that limits posts to 140-characters. It is important to understand how to use twitter because it not only acts as a portal for you to keep up with your friends, but also acts as a real-time search engine covering millions of topics.

Activity: Watch twitter video • Briefly discuss why that might attract users to twitter, or what the class liked or disliked about the video.


Social Media Privacy and Your Digital Reputation

Now that the students have learned more about what social media is and how they can (or already do) use it, the last portion of the class time will be used to talk about issues of privacy and "digital reputation" relating to social media.


Introduce this part of the lesson by saying something to the effect of the following:

(Allow about 3 minutes) “Now we're going to look at some important issues with social media that you need to be aware of. Even though, according to Mark Zuckerberg, ‘Facebook is about sharing’

(, you shouldn’t share everything about yourself on a social media site. For example, would you want someone who is reviewing your college application or a potential employer to see a post like this? ‘Decided to blow off studying for my history exam tomorrow and go to John’s party instead. Hope to see ya there!’ Be aware that if you posted that as a Facebook status update without using any privacy controls, then the college official reviewing your application might not think as favorably of you as they would have had they not seen the update.”


Importance of social media privacy and managing a "digital


After introducing the topic as outlined above, tell students that it is important that they are aware of their “digital reputation.” (Allow about a minute to talk about this). o “Digital reputation,” in the context of social media, defined: According to Davina Pruitt Ph.D., Director of Educational Technology Policy, Research and Outreach in the College of Education at the University of Maryland, digital (online) reputation is “[A] way of crafting or creating your online image, how you want to present yourself in a digital media […] it’s the way of crafting that message that others will see” (from


Show students this video from Yahoo! Video and

(Video is 49 seconds in length)  After viewing the clip, ask students to raise their hands to indicate whether or not their online life matches their real life.

 If there are students that said their online life does NOT match their real life, ask them if they would be willing to share how the two are different, and why. (Allow 5 minutes total to watch video clip, have students raise hands and discuss real-life and online-life matching or not matching.)


The question and discussion above leads into why a person's online life

should, as much as possible, match their real life. i. Share with the students these statistics from TRUSTe, an online privacy services company (from “How to Protect Your

Privacy on Social Networks: Tips for Teens”):

“Nearly 50 percent of all employers use social networking sites to screen applicants.”

· “70 percent of college admission officers use social networking sites to evaluate college applicants.”

Information you post is not completely anonymous. Every Internet-connected computer has an IP address that can be used to trace a user’s identity. ii. In light of these facts, ask how many students, by a show of hands, now think how they represent themselves online, especially on social media sites, is important. If there are students who do not raise their hands, ask them why they don’t feel their digital reputation is important. (Allow about a minute to read the statistics and about 3 minutes for discussion).


Concluding activity: “Viewing and Changing Privacy Settings” assignment (Allow about 5-6 minutes to hand out assignment, explain and/or answer questions)

The final activity is a homework assignment* to be given out at the end of class. Assign students the task of looking at the privacy settings for their social media profile, if they have one. If there are students who do not have a profile, assign them the task of looking at and evaluating Blogger's privacy settings, since the class will be using the site. *See the activity packet beginning on page 7. The packet can be printed out and distributed to students to complete in order to receive credit for the assignment.


Class Review: Why social media is important: Social media is as addictive as it is profitable. It connects us to different people

and different things. People spend hours a day creating virtual identities that contain valued information that business can use to help design advertisements and promotions, judge whether or not they want to hire you, and collect feedback about products and services. It's important for you (students) to understand the appropriate uses of social media because it is becoming a more and more important to global culture. It allows for easy collaboration on projects, helps people stay in touch, and introduces people to new ideas. Question: Do you think that Facebook will continue to grow in popularity, or is it just another fad that will eventually be replaced by a better service?

Class Assignment: Viewing and Changing Privacy Settings
Overview: In class, you learned about three different social media sites: Facebook, Blogger and Twitter. You also discussed issues relating to privacy on these sites, and the importance of being aware of your "digital reputation." This assignment will teach you how to view and change your privacy settings on Facebook, Blogger and Twitter. Directions: 1) Read the information in this packet! It describes how to view and change your settings for all three sites. 2) After you have read the packet, go to one or all of the sites and change your privacy settings based on what you've learned. 3) Answer the questions listed below. (Worth 2 points each) (Please type your answers on a separate sheet)

1. Was it easy to get to the area of the site where you edit your privacy settings? Answer for each of the three sites and explain why or why not.

2. Prior to this assignment, did you use privacy settings to control who can see your Facebook profile? If yes, what information did you not make public

3. Prior to this assignment, did you have restrictions on who could view your blog? If yes, describe them.

4. As a result of this assignment, what restrictions did you place on who can see your blog, if any?

5. Prior to this assignment, did you protect your tweets on Twitter? If not, explain why.

6. What information did you make either private or friends-only on your Facebook profile as a result of this assignment?

7. In the future, are you going to restrict who can see things like status updates when you post them on Facebook?

8. What is one thing you wish were different about what you can and cannot make private or restrict on these sites?

9. What would you change about the options available to users for controlling their privacy?

10. David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company that is Connecting the World, talks about his eighteen year-old daughter’s view on Facebook privacy settings in Finlo Rohrer’s article “The Unintended Consequences of Facebook.” Kirkpatrick says, “"My wife and I cannot see anything. She is using the privacy controls simply not to let her parents see [her profile].”

Do you use privacy controls to restrict what your parents can see about you on social media sites? If so, is this the only reason you used privacy settings, are there other reasons as well?

Instructions on How to Change Facebook, Blogger and Twitter Privacy Settings
NOTE: On all of the sites, be sure to save your settings to make sure the changes you make are applied!

A. How to change your privacy settings on Facebook
Some information is available to everyone no matter what: ▫ ▫ ▫ ▫ Name Profile Picture Gender Networks

1) To view privacy settings: 1. Login to Facebook 2. Hover over & click “Account” in the upper left corner 3. Click “Privacy Settings”

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2) Watch the three “Learn More” videos about privacy on Facebook to learn how to change specific settings. The videos are located at: Make sure to watch all three videos!

B. How to change your privacy settings on Blogger
Google (who owns Blogger) provides a detailed video on how to change your blog settings. The video is available at:

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C. How to protect your tweets on Twitter
1. Click username and select “Settings” from the dropdown menu 2. Under “Account” tab, scroll down to “Tweet Privacy” and check the “Protect my tweets” box.

Note that any tweets you posted prior to checking this box aren’t protected. The protection only applies to future tweets.

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