In “Information Revelation and Internet Privacy Concerns on Social Network Sites: A Case Study of Facebook” (2009), Alyson Young and Anabel Quan-Haase argued that “despite concerns raised about the disclosure of personal information on social network sites, research has demonstrated that users continue to disclose personal information.” In recent years, Facebook has expanded greatly — both in user numbers and in their range of applications, especially those available for mobile technologies. Used on wearable devices like smartphones and smart watches, Facebook allows for not only mobile messaging, calling and video-calling, but also for disclosing information about one’s locations and social behavior by means of the “check-in” or “who are you with” functions. This lesson plan raises students’ awareness about the personal information they are disclosing.
In this lesson, students critically examine the world’s most popular social media site in order to learn about the digital power that is accrued when sites gather personal information about one’s individual preferences, one’s social life, and one’s mobile behavior. In doing so, this lesson plan attunes students to the potential risks and benefits of using digital social media.
Students will thus learn:
2 class meetings
Internet access in the classroom; mobile devices with internet access
Working knowledge of Facebook on a mobile device
Access and Adaptability
For this lesson plan, access to Facebook via an internet-connected mobile device is necessary. For students without a Facebook account, instructors may ask them to start a new account in advance. Students could also work together in pairs, looking only at one Facebook account.
This lesson has two main parts: an in-class activity and accompanying homework assignment. In class, students work in pairs to examine the personal information Facebook has about its users, and what this data might be used for. As homework, students write short articles arguing for or against such uses of personal data.
In-Class or Assignment Instructions
In a computer classroom, students can use desktop machines in order to gather information about how much Facebook knows about the students’ personal information and mobile/social behavior. But students can also use their mobile devices for this.
Students find information about the “costumer profile” in the Facebook sections on biographical aspects, on personal interests, and on their “activity log” page, which includes all their activities regarding “likes” of pages and posts, tags, and event activities.
During class, students should try to look at their partners’ Facebook profile (alternatively their own). But for homework, students can then monitor their own Facebook activities with regards to a “costumer profile”.
The 500 word essay may be assessed according to general rhetorical principles. As it is a position paper, it should have a clear structure with a beginning and conclusion and clearly discernable arguments.