How to put your Facebook account out of its misery

facebook_written_logoDigital curators often fret about how to keep their data accessible for the long term, but users of Facebook accounts sometimes have the opposite problem. In one of several instances of New Media alumni in the press recently, Digital Curation professor John Bell tells you how to cut the cord without leaving your data hanging.

John Bell, Dartmouth
John Bell

The way that Facebook exposes the private information and lives of its users has prompted many to jump ship from this most popular of social networks. Yet abandoning your Facebook account doesn’t shield you from view, as John Bell explained in a recent article in the Bangor Daily News. In fact, unless you terminate your account appropriately, leaving your Facebook page open could allow hackers enough access to your data to impersonate you on Facebook or in other contexts.

BDN reporter Meg Haskell turned to Bell for the low-down:

“An active but unmonitored social media account can be used to impersonate you if someone takes it over,” John Bell, who teaches digital curation at the University of Maine, said. “Depending on how you’ve set up your social media account and what information is in it, taking it over can be the first step to gaining access to passwords for other, more serious, online accounts like banking or insurance.”

In addition, he said, basic personal information such as the names of friends or family members can be used to scam vulnerable seniors.

“My recommendation is that everybody, including seniors, be aware of what they’re putting online and how the privacy controls for Facebook and other social media platforms work,” Bell said. “And, yes, if you no longer use a social media account, you should deactivate it. You’re not getting anything out of it any more and it’s a potential vulnerability, so why not remove the risk by removing the account?”

What if you don’t want to close your Facebook account? Bell’s advice goes not just for Facebook refugees, but also for friends and relatives of people who have died in real life but haven’t terminated their Facebook accounts.

Eryk Salvaggio, Wiki Education Foundation

Other UMaine New Media alumni in the news in the last few months include Eryk Salvaggio, whose innovative ideas about how teachers can use Wikipedia in the classroom were featured in the Washington Post and in this quote from the LA Times:

“College students are in this great sweet spot where they’re picking up a lot of knowledge about science in their field, but they’re also still connected to that sense of not knowing. That’s a great time to write for the general audience,” said Eryk Salvaggio of the Wiki Education Foundation, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, spun off the nonprofit that runs Wikipedia, whose goal is to train professors to improve the quality of Wikipedia’s content.

The depth of knowledge on Wikipedia is uneven. A lot depends on how many people are passionate enough about a topic to volunteer their time, Salvaggio said.

“Wikipedia has great coverage of military history, for example, but it doesn’t have great coverage of women’s health,” Salvaggio said. “Those are the types of gaps where students can go in — they have academic resources, they have textbooks, they have access to their library, to medical journals, academic journals — and contribute something that makes a difference in these more difficult-to-write aspects on Wikipedia.”

Jake Williams' design for ThreatMetrix
Illustration by Jake Williams for ThreatMetrix

Meanwhile, UMaine New Media alumnus Eric Carlsen interviewed fellow alum Jake Williams, an illustrator and animator who is currently Creative Director at LooseKeys:

Jake is a fellow graduate of UMaine’s New Media program and, over the past several years, has worked on many different projects in a wide range of styles, with clients including Naked Wines, IBM,, and recently the bumper animations for Half Rez 2016. His animations are very lively and playful, and are inspired by a lifelong love of cartoons, games, and the goal of creating enjoyable entertaining content.

In addition to talking in-depth about his background and approach to tackling different kinds of projects, we also dig into his experience with social media and his tips on how to use it effectively. I had a great time catching up with him after our time in school together!

You can download the interview as part of Carlsen’s CG Chatter podcasts.

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