What is proper social media protocol? - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

What is proper social media protocol?

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For Samford University professor, Dr. Cynthia Lohrke. Being 'Facebook friends' can wait until after the semester.

"I just think it's crossing a professional line," Lohrke says. "For me, it was sort of an easy call not to cross that line."

Lohrke will tell her students, it's nothing personal. It's just a matter of keeping the student/professor relationship - professional.

"I think students aren't totally aware of what they should put on, and not put on Facebook," Lohrke says. "And as a professor, to be quite honest, I don't want really want to know what they're doing on their weekends."

However, Lohrke says if her students still want to be Facebook friends long after they've taken her class, they're more than welcome to. In fact, she encourages it.

"Especially after they leave Samford, I can follow their careers, find out when they change jobs. Just find out what's going on in their life. That's been really fun," says Lohrke.

But for students like Tray Norrell and Katie Sims, they see being Facebook friends with their current professors as no big deal.

Norrell says, "A couple of my friends on Facebook are professors and that hasn't come of anything (bad). I see their pictures and they see mine, so I guess it kind of keeps me accountable to what (information) I put up."

Sims agrees, "I think it's OK to be friends with my teachers on Facebook. Usually it's if I know I have a good relationship with that teacher and it's comfortable enough to take it to social media."

One option that allows Samford students and professors to stay connected is the university's Learning Management System. A resource Lohrke favors, because it teaches her students how to separate their "business" life from their personal life.

"I would rather stay within those realms since I feel it can do just about everything Facebook can do," says Lohrke.

But, what about students who aren't in college? Should a high school teacher be Facebook friends with a student?

Michael Lee, principal at Clay-Chalkville High School says, "We encourage our teachers not to be Facebook friends with students. Simply because we think it blurs that relationship that the teacher students should have.

As for parents wanting to 'friend' teachers. Lee sees it differently.

"The more information the parents get, the better. I think that any medium we can use to get information out to parents is a positive," says Lee. "Whether that's via a school webpage, Twitter or Facebook."

Ultimately. Lee says, it's all about being responsible when using social media.

"When you're a professional and when you're a teacher. When you press send. There's a great possibility that some of your students are going to see what you put out there," says Lee.

Professor Lohrke agrees.

"Our job is not only a teaching role, but we're also supposed to show by example," Lohrke says. "So we need to be very careful not just friending students, but also what we post on our Facebook pages as well."

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