A few weeks ago I mentioned that I spoke with Mike Murphy—the VP of Sales at Facebook. He was very sympathetic, but ultimately could not provide a solution to the library profile question.
On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, my Facebook account was disabled. Apparently I was guilty of spamming users. I disagree with that accusation, but we'll leave that to the linguists to debate.
After a volley of emails, I was able to get my account reinstated. It's a delicate matter because I need to use Facebook as a social utility for the book . I can't post too much information, but here is my advice to you:
Scratch everything I said in the CRL News article . Essentially it is a direct violation to email a student and advertise a service or event. If they join a group, then they are fair game; it's consensual. But for me to look up all incoming freshmen who are computer science majors and introduce myself as their subject librarian, promote Safari Tech Books, or invite them to a workshop, open house, or an event, is grounds for termination.
We cannot use the ‘courses' feature to find students in a particular class (that we know includes a project or research assignment) and send them a message with tips, suggestions, supportive material, examples, or even to offer of assistance; this is prohibited by Facebook.
Direct marketing is grounds for expulsion.
I was actually pretty bummed about this for several days because I've been a champion of Facebook for over two years. But this downtime got me thinking…has my effort paid off? Sure several students ‘friended' me and many responded to my messages—but none of them have used Facebook to contact me since then about the library or assignments. My objective of appearing in their space has ultimately failed. While they don't mind me there, they don't recognize me as a librarian. If I offer help they'll take it, but they won't ask for it. Maybe I didn't ‘spam' them enough? I guess I am starting to question ‘be where the patron is' now.
So back to Facebook--- “profiles are for people, groups are for everything else.” That's their philosophy and we have to adhere to it. I'm probably going to experiment with a group next, but only if I can get others onboard here. Personally, I think groups are lame. Groups are more for symbolic expressions of a person's identity, rather than interactive communication portal. Belonging to a library group is not cool.
I have much more to say but it's a delicate matter. Maybe once Vivendi buys them out they'll stop being so elitist and realize the positive intentions of librarians. Until then...