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Locations Apps and Student-Athletes: A Recipe for Trouble?

When Facebook recently instituted Places without any input or permission, I was disappointed, but not surprised. Like many of you, I value my privacy, but understand why Facebook does what it does. We are all willing participants.

But when it comes to protecting the privacy of college student-athletes, I have a bigger concern. One of safety and risk. Like many colleges, we have, from time to time, had student-athletes pursued by fanatic fans. Nothing tragic yet, but it’s there nonetheless. The bigger the public profile, the more they are at risk.

Tonight I am meeting with the track and field and cross country athletes to talk about social media privacy settings and how to protect yourself. I thought I would share a basic outline here of what I am going to give them.

1. What Facebook Places is and concerns:
-Friends can check you in to places you are not,as a joke
-Friends can check you in to places you are where anyone can find you
-Potential stalkers can find you if you have friended them unknowingly

2. Make sure you have Facebook Places disabled in your privacy settings.
I am going to walk them through this demo.

3. Discussion about Foursquare and the potential hazards for letting anyone and everyone know where you are.
-Foursquare can be more dangerous than Facebook Places because of the Twitter and Facebook interfaces that allow people to see where you are. Make sure, if you use Foursquare, that you don’t enable/link to Twitter or Facebook. Once you check-in on Foursquare, anyone on Foursquare can see where you are. There is an “off-the-grid” option you can check so people don’t see where you are, but it’s not default and needs to be checked everytime. Kind of defeats the purpose of being on Foursquare unless you’re just there to see where everybody else is. (Thanks to Cassie Gage for the info on Foursquare.)

4. Discussion about Twitter and protected tweets.
-Student-athletes can protect their tweets which allows them to have only real friends following them.

5. Discussion about not friending media on Facebook and blocking them as followers on Twitter.
-This is a hot potato at a lot of schools, but we are asking our student-athletes to monitor their Twitter followers and block all those that are not their friends. With media, even if they know them, we are asking them not to friend them or let them follow.

Bottom line for us–we don’t want to ban our student-athletes from using social media (you really can’t anyway), but we want them to be safe and smart as they use it.

What are you guys doing at your schools?

  • fpusid

    Thanks Chris. We're putting together a student-athlete handbook at Fresno Pacific and including a section on social media. This definitely helps.