Facebook and the Edu-Marketers

Am I the only person out there in social-media-land who really, really does not want to be friended by companies on Facebook?

I get random invitations, quite frequently, popping up with the accompanying "34 mutual friends" peer-pressure type inspired messages.

So, what - how does the strategy go, exactly... did they comb through their profiles,  saw me flash up in their friends' friends lists and thought to themselves: oh hey, she's a blogger! 

If I friend her then she can promote my business for me because she just loves writing about education so she's bound to notice our wonderful amazing products and become just absolutely passionate about our company, and, and... and with a relative glee, clicked on that add as a friend button - with no need for any type of accompanying message.

But who are they: 

is it a Jennifer, Janey or Jeremy behind their logo?   

I presume that I won't suddenly be having some kind of level access to their own photo albums, movie genre preferences or their deep and darkest private thoughts.  They'll have individual private profiles for that sort of stuff or are they hoping to share great TED videos with me?  

Going to be sending me the latest rap songs, which they know I'll be loving?

Doubt it.

The upside: 
I probably won't have to scroll through their Mafia War, Farmville or Jewel-thingie transactions.

The downside:  
They'll get to see me having a whinge or a moan about whatever is going on in my life that isn't all roses on whatever day that it isn't all roses.  They'll see the music I like and if a friend (you know, a real friend) or a family member (you know, a real person who is connected to me via flesh and blood) is going through something and I comment on their lives' passing by then they'll see my thoughts in whatever comment it is that I want to leave behind.  In whatever way I openly communicate within my intimate circle they'll see...

OOOOOOOOh.  Nooooooo.....

This gives me the hiiii biii jiiiiibies and I don't doubt that would give my friends and families the hiiii biiii jiiiibies too if I were to allow this sort of access to these edu-marketers.  Eee-yuck.

Now, if the desire for the connect is not because I'm an edublogger, is it simply that I am just some random teacher especially selected to receive their spam..?  I mean why not simply invite me to an official group page 'cause Facebook is about 

a) friends 

b) family 

c) professional colleagues who I've allowed into my life and thoughts and intimate circle in order that we may become friends: real friends.   

It is not random.

Why are these companies opting for the "friend" route - why the let's have access to everything you think route?   Why haven't they opted for a page or a group?  I join Groups.  I don't mind groups, check on them too, sometimes, when I have time.

Please don't tell me that these educational companies don't or won't spam us via Facebook.  Let's face it, usually, as a general rule, on the whole, they have done absolutely no research into web2.0 best practices,  (they have a Ph.D in Marketing from 1972 so they don't need to read up on what the self-prescribed gurus have declared best practices) and aren't interested in how social-networking works at all... they've just seen the numbers amassing and gotten wind of that ephemeral concept with its esoteric acronym... and with tongues a-salivating and dollar-signs a-blinking have felt a temptation way too yummy to resist and have come on in a-braying as they enter. 

You think I'm just ranting?

In the last two weeks, one of my PLN decided to tag me in a painting, not of me, but basically, essentially this piece of her art would now show up as my face when someone decides to google  image search me.  I tried to explain this to the artist as I felt that it was not actually an intended offense but she simply couldn't see the problem because, basically, she is in love with her art and has absolutely no problem with my name lending her some kudos.   

I'm not stupid, she wanted my friends list to see her art.

I have a problem with that.

I think it is dishonest and blatant marketing within my private space.

I untagged myself.

One of my PLN befriended one of my real friends.   My real friend since I was 14, wrote to check if this person was  an okay person to become friends with...  so I told her that yes, I thought so but honestly, it does make me feel a little weird, silly and nervous.    I'm crossing my fingers that it was actually okay, that the interest is genuine and that they can become real friends too. 

One very dear person in my PLN wrote a blog article - a very good blog article - but she tagged  me in it and wrote as a header that read This Article is about You.   Now it wasn't about me.  It was about her and about  her development of her PLN which is great, but basically, by doing this, tagging me in this way drove my curious real friends and my  wanting-to-know-what's-going-on-in-my-life-real-family to her blog page to find out just what had been said about the Karenne they love. 

These people are not potential members of her PLN.  

These people aren't my 

Personal or Passionately Loving 


my Professional Learning Network.

These people are my Friends and Family. 

Not cool.  


I untagged myself.
So what's next:  Mr company-who-wants-to-be-my-friend?  What will you be tagging me in? 

Sigh, I guess, I suppose instead of ranting and whingeing about all this, with you on my blog page, I could of course, just click on the ignore button whenever I receive these requests.  Actually I do do this, but after seeing the 34-mutual-friends on the last one, I just really had to put it out there and ask:

Why would anyone let a random company 
have access to one's private 
photos and thoughts?

To The Wall?

Doesn't anyone else feel like this is a total invasion of privacy?

Update 31 May 2010
hat tip to Petra Pointer for sharing this with me on Facebook

Useful related links

Finding this blog on Facebook:
via Facebook, Networked Blogs
to receive regular updates on what I've been posting on this blog, go Kalinago Group
If you want to be my friend on Facebook, it is okay, just do a search on my name and write me a personal message saying who you are, don't just click on the add as a friend button and for blessed sake, respect my world, my life...  :)

imagecredit: I want privacy by bejealousofme, flickr

(There's a poll going on the Lexiophiles site to determine a list of the best language blogs, see my post about that here so if you haven't yet voted and you don't this is really totally tacky of me to ask, do please click and visit the site to let them know :-) thanks muchly).

12 Responses to “Facebook and the Edu-Marketers”

  • Unknown says:
    May 15, 2010

    Karenne! Thanks for this post. I wholeheartedly agree and am very careful as to who I let in 'my world' on facebook. I have no problem 'liking' a company, but friending one--come on... Twitter, Linked-In and Xing are for people who I don't really know, but facebook is a bit different! You have once again said what I think very, very well!

  • Mike Harrison says:
    May 15, 2010

    Thanks for this, Karenne.

    Facebook scares me to be perfectly honest. And I think the plans they have to tie the whole together as a lot of Facebook 'like' preferences is wrong. Like you've said above, I use Facebook for certain things, including keeping in touch with friends (some I haven't seen in 8 years). It's not professional for me, but all the same the two - personal and professional - become blurred. A couple of colleagues added me as a friend this year, and I've received requests from students asking me to be their friend - the first one is ok, but the second isn't. I immediately went as X directory as I could with Facebook, but this took me about 30mins to an hour to do, and that's another thing that is wrong with FB.



  • Anonymous says:
    May 15, 2010

    Totally agree with all the sentiments here.... The whole Twitter, PLN thing is enriching, affirming and generally beneficial.... but it's still all fairly distant... Facebook is a much more personal space.

    Like Mike (and many others) I'm a bit concerned that Facebook itself seems to want to get people to make everything public - sure you can edit the settings, but their defaults always seem to be the wrong ones...

    Twitter is cool for networking sharing ideas etc.

    Facebook is great for keeping in touch with friends.

    Just don't get them confused.

  • Janet Bianchini says:
    May 15, 2010

    Dear Karenne

    Thanks for this very interesting post, which delves into issues which are of concern for all those who use Facebook. The blurring between the private and public domain is indeed becoming confusing. It just all seems to be far more complicated than it should be.



    May 16, 2010

    Hi Holly, :-) glad to hear it!

    @Mike, yes, the lines are being blurred but at what cost? Sometimes those blurring the lines don't think through the issues of whose lines they blur when they accept requests from companies or market then, who then now have access to one's friends!

    I know that I sort of regret being so public about my work life in my private life as I don't think too many of friends really like seeing all the things I do, if you know what I mean.

    (And if you're one of my friends/family that clicked on my networked blogs link from FB... */blush*/ sorry!)

    Yes - Phil and Janet - it is rather worrying - I don't like this move and have been toying for a while now on whether or not to quit: my problem is that I belong to a really huge family (at least 50 of us are on FB) and to be honest, it has been an incredible experience watching them and their kids grow up and having such immediate access! :-(

  • Darren says:
    May 19, 2010

    I'm starting to wonder if I should be using Facebook for friends, family, or professional colleagues... but then I realise that I don't really know what those words mean anymore. Someone I went to school with but haven't seen for ten years or more? Someone I have never met but have daily contact with via twitter, blogs etc? I understand that I can decide who sees what, but I can't be bothered to fiddle about. Conequently, my professional colleagues get to see videos of my kids, my old drinking buddies can read my latest blog post about reflective practice, and my mum can see a photo of me with my head in a dustbin and my trousers around my ankles*. But that's all part of being a well-rounded human being... people can skip over what they don't like and there is nothing on there that I am truly ashamed of anyone seeing.

    (*Joke - to my knowledge, no such photo exists)

    May 19, 2010

    and then there is that :-)

    BUT no to brandedcompany. Nyp. Last line not to be crossed on over, ever, hopefully.

  • Unknown says:
    May 19, 2010

    Thank you Karenne for this post! I didn't realize the intentions behind tagging me in random items. I've had this happen a few times with people tagging me in videos, etc. and not seeing myself in the video, etc. Now that I'm aware I'm going to have to start untagging myself.

    May 19, 2010

    Hi Shelly,

    Yes - unfortunately when you're tagged that content then shows up on your name and especially for people like us (public edubloggers) we have to be a bit careful about what others determine to be "our" work!

    Madness, eh - sometimes I wonder about all this social-media and what it will do to my career down the line - I love the work I do but also feel quite odd about having to be so ever-vigilant these days: checking my name on google is no longer a "narcissistic hobby" LOL - but now a "making-sure-no-one-influences-my-profile-negatively" as I'm the one allowed to do that! :-)

  • Sue Lyon-Jones says:
    May 19, 2010

    Yep, am with you on this one - wouldn't want to use my personal facebook space for networking, either.

    IIRC, you can fiddle with the settings on Facebook to keep pretty much everything private if you want to and prevent people who aren't already part of your network from finding you on there, if that's what you're after; though as Mike points out, going through the process can be a bit of a pain...


  • Richard says:
    May 21, 2010

    Great rant Karenne!

    Facebook is definitely non-professional to me and as far as possible I intend to keep it that way.

  • Anne Hodgson says:
    May 28, 2010

    I agree. I started friending people when I got into FB, around the time I got into Twitter, since I didn't FB before. Now I regret a lot of that, since I've started to use it to stay in touch with friends I'd lost sight of. They, in fact, are the only reason I'm still on FB. I could start unfriending the people I don't know - mostly teachers, actually, who don't blog and seem to be connected to other teachers on FB - but how stupid would that be?? It's a bit of a mess, actually.


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