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In 2012, author and editor Kevin Sessums shared a post that his old colleague from Vanity Fair George Hodgman had written from his hometown of Paris, Missouri, where he was caring for his mother, Betty.
Sessums introduced it, in part, by saying: \"His missives here on Facebook about his time back home with her are so beautiful. I had to share this latest one… (they) resound with such love and respect and a kind of sweet regret.\"
Portions of the story in that missive appear in Hodgman’s new book Bettyville, which will debut at #9 on the New York Times bestseller list next Sunday. Hodgman–a noted book and magazine editor who has worked at Simon and Schuster, Vanity Fair, Talk magazine, Henry Holt and Company, and Houghton Mifflin–announced it on his Facebook blog on March 18: \"This is a total thrill and unexpected. I wanted to post this here because I truly owe it to all of you. YOU MADE THIS BOOK FOR ME.\"
Writing in the New York Times, Cathy Horyn calls Bettyville, \"a most remarkable, laugh-out-loud book\" that \"works on several levels (as a meditation on belonging, as a story of growing up gay and the psychic cost of silence, as metaphor for recovery).\" When Horyn notes that he approaches memoir from a \"fairly new perspective: that of a gay son,\" Hodgman says, \"Here was this neurotic, self-centered, New York, childless gay man.\"
Horyn quotes Sara Bershtel, publisher of Metropolitan Books and a Hodgman colleague from his time at Henry Holt, who said, Bettyville suggests \"the development of a watchful gay kid. You have to watch everybody, you have to watch your parents, and you can’t show anything.\" Horyn feels that watchfulness \"made him a shrewd and witty observer.”
Hodgman told the Times that he generally wrote from 4 to 9 a.m., when his mother rose. Sometimes he would key in their chats while his mother spoke from the sofa.
\"My mother is funny and dry without knowing that she is. Together, we can make people laugh. So I had this idea of a quirky comedy team…I’m also very nostalgic about these towns…I just felt that this rural area was a real story that nobody was telling.\"
People are listening. In January, Publishers Lunch had already flagged it as a book to watch in its BUZZ BOOKS 2015: Spring/Summer edition. Amazon and Books-a-Million recently made Bettyville a Top Pick, and People named it a \"Book of the Week.\"
\"I am a believer in God in my own special way. But I think I was given this book because I came back.\"
By Candy Gourlay
If your name is JK Rowling, please ignore this post.
Facebook Page: formerly called a fan page, it's for businesses, brands, products, public figures. More
Facebook Profile: for individuals. More
So you're an author or about to become one, your publisher or maybe your agent thinks you ought to create a Facebook Page, so that you can start the social media ball rolling. Should
Compared to the general Facebook populace, comic fans are much more likely to be “single,” “in a relationship,” or “engaged.” They are much less likely to be “married.” As far as education, they are slightly more likely to be college educated. Take the above and we’re looking for younger college educated individuals.
Also of note, what else comics readers like:
That’s just a sample. Hit the link for the whole thing. Brett tells me that some racial breakdowns should be available soon and that should prove to be fascinating as well.
The Eerdmans Books for Young Readers team has shot a Social Media 101 video for their YouTube channel. The video embedded above features “Facebook Tips for Authors.”
Follow this link to read the publisher’s social media and internet marketing guide for authors. Most successful authors know that their job is not limited to just writing. Last year, Jarrett J. Krosoczka verified this during an interview with MassLive.com.
Krosoczka explained: “You know people who are authors-only? Could I meet them? Because even though I, along with many of my peers, make my living from putting my imagination to paper, so many other roles are expected in today’s publishing landscape. Authors must also be speakers, performers, online marketeers and social-media mavens.” What do you think? Do you have any social media advice that writers would find helpful?
Introduction, from Michael Alvarez, co-editor of Political Analysis
Recently I asked Nathaniel Beck to write about his experiences with research replication. His essay, published on 24 August 2014 on the OUPblog, concluded with a brief discussion of a recent experience of his when he tried to obtain replication data from the authors of a recent study published in PNAS, on an experiment run on Facebook regarding social contagion. Since then the story of Neal’s efforts to obtain this replication material have taken a few interesting twists and turns, so I asked Neal to provide an update — because the lessons from his efforts to get the replication data from this PNAS study are useful for the continued discussion of research transparency in the social sciences.
After not hearing from Adam Kramer of Facebook, even after contacting PNAS, I persisted with both the editor of PNAS (Inder Verma, who was most kind) and with the NAS through “well connected” friends. (Getting replication data should not depend on knowing NAS members!). I was finally contacted by Adam Kramer, who offered that I could come out to Palo Alto to look at the replication data. Since Facebook did not offer to fly me out, I said no. I was then offered a chance to look at the replication files in the Facebook office 4 blocks from NYU, so I accepted. Let me stress that all dealings with Adam Kramer were highly cordial, and I assume that delays were due to Facebook higher ups who were dealing with the human subjects firestorm related to the Kramer piece.
When I got to the Facebook office I was asked to sign a standard non-disclosure agreement, which I dec. To my surprise this was not a problem, with the only consequence being that a security officer would have had to escort me to the bathroom. I then was put in a room with a Facebook secure notebook with the data and R-studio loaded; Adam Kramer was there to answer questions, and I was also joined by a security person and an external relations person. All were quite pleasant, and the security person and I could even discuss the disastrous season being suffered by Liverpool.
I was given a replication file which was a data frame which had approximately 700,000 rows (one for each respondent) and 7 columns containing the number of positive and negative words used by each respondent as well as the total word count of each respondent, percentages based on these numbers, experimental condition. and a variable which omitted some respondents for producing the tables. This is exactly the data frame that would have been put in an archive since it contained all the data needed to replicate the article. I also was given the R-code that produced every item in the article. I was allowed to do anything I wanted with that data, and I could copy the results into a file. That file was then checked by Facebook people and about two weeks later I received the entire file I created. All good, or at least as good as it is going to get.
The data frame I played with was based on aggregating user posts so each user had one row of data, regardless of the number of posts (and the data frame did not contain anything more than the total number of words posted). I can understand why Facebook did not want to give me the data frame, innocuous as it seemed; those who specialize in de-de-identifying private data and reverse engineering code are quite good these days, and I can surely understand Facebook’s reluctance to have this raw data out there. And I understand why they could not give me all the actual raw data, which included how feeds were changed and so forth; this is the secret sauce that they would not like reverse engineered.
I got what I wanted. I could see their code, could play with density plots to get a sense of words used, I could change the number of extreme points dropped, and I could have moved to a negative binomial instead of a Poisson. Satisfied, I left after about an hour; there are only so many things one can do with one experiment on two outcomes. I felt bad that Adam Kramer had to fly to New York, but I guess this is not so horrible. Had the data been more complicated I might have felt that I could not do everything I wanted, and running a replication with 3 other people in a room is not ideal (especially given my typing!).
My belief is that that PNAS and the authors could simply have had a different replication footnote. This would have said that the code used (about 5 lines of R, basically a call to a Poisson regression using GLM) is available at a dataverse. In addition, they could have noted that the GLM called used the data frame I described, with the summary statistics for that data frame. Readers could then see what was done, and I can see no reason for such a procedure to bother Facebook (though I do not speak for them). I also note a clear statement on a dataverse would have obviated the need for some discussion. Since bytes are cheap, the dataverse could also contain whatever policy statement Facebook has on replication data. This (IMHO) is much better than the “contact the authors for replication data” footnote that was published. It is obviously up to individual editors as to whether this is enough to satisfy replication standards, but at least it is better than the status quo.
What if I didn’t work four blocks from Astor Place? Fortunately I did not have to confront this horror. How many other offices does Facebook have? Would Adam Kramer have flown to Peoria? I batted this around, but I did most of the batting and the Facebook people mostly did no comment. So someone else will have to test this issue. But for me, the procedure worked. Obviously I am analyzing lots more proprietary data, and (IMHO) this is a good thing. So Facebook, et al., and journal editors and societies have many details to work out. But, based on this one experience, this can be done. So I close this with thanks to Adam Kramer (but do remind him that I have had auto-responders to email for quite while now).
On the more trivial issue of my own dataverse, I am happy to report that almost everything that was once on an a private ftp site is now on my Harvard dataverse. Some of this was already up because of various co-authors who always cared about replication. And on stuff that was not up, I was lucky to have a co-author like Jonathan Katz, who has many skills I do not possess (and is a bug on RCS and the like, which beats my “I have a few TB and the stuff is probably hidden there somewhere”). So everything is now on the dataverse, except for one data set that we were given for our 1995 APSR piece (and which Katz never had). Interestingly, I checked the original authors’ web sites (one no longer exists, one did not go back nearly that far) and failed to make contact with either author. Twenty years is a long time! So everyone should do both themselves and all of us a favor, and build the appropriate dataverse files contemporaneously with the work. Editors will demand this, but even with this coercion, this is just good practice. I was shocked (shocked) at how bad my own practice was.
Heading image: Wikimedia Foundation Servers-8055 24 by Victorgrigas. CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
I never used Facebook like most other marketers. While I have a page, I don't hold my breath expecting traffic . . . or money from it.
This is not to say I don't post to it regularly, but the platform has too many hurdles to jump over to make it worth my time and effort (for me anyway).
What are some of the hurdles with Facebook?
To start, I don't like the fact that they track every one of
As someone who’s not a huge Facebook (FB) fan, it will be interesting to see if this new social media platform gives Facebook a run for its money.
According to an article at Forbes, “The platform, which is still in public beta (meaning invite-only), has caused quite a stir; dubbed by some as the ‘hipster social network’, Ello offers a forever ad-free experience and promises to never sell its
A few weeks ago, a young American first-time author, Kathleen Hale, unleashed a bit of a social media storm by publishing a piece in The Guardian about the increasingly vexed online relationship between authors and bloggers. The article (here) which ran in the Saturday magazine, detailed how she became obsessed by one of her online critics, a blogger called Blythe Harris. When Hale engaged with Blythe's criticism's of her book (despite the many, many warnings she received that authors should not answer back to bad reviews), Blythe and many of her fellow bloggers apparently turned on her and Hale found herself labelled a BBA - a badly behaved author. For Hale (and I should emphasise that we only get Hale's perspective on what happened here), Blythe was wilfully malicious, ruining the reception of her book, and using her clique of friends and fellow bloggers to trash Hale's reputation. In return, Hale details her own increasing obsession with Blythe - an obsession which rapidly moved from what she termed 'light stalking' (gathering any and every detail she could from Blythe's online presence) to what by any standards is just plain stalking - using subterfuge to gain access to Blythe's real-life identity, workplace address and home address.
It's a sorry tale, and I'm not going to rehash the Hale case here, but it did make me think about the business of social media, writers, bloggers and boundaries. Authors, as Hale notes, are encouraged to get online and have a social media presence, but their natural audience, book bloggers and fans, seem quite often to resent authors turning up on their turf and, as they see it, throwing their weight around. A while ago, as a bit of a newbie author, I brushed up against a similar controversy when I noticed an online discussion on a book blogger's site about one of Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series.
I'm a bit of a fan of this series, and was interested to see that the author had stopped by and commented, explaining where some of the features the blogger was discussing had come from in the writing process. It was (I thought) a perfectly polite contribution, and not in the least critical of her analysis, simply adding a bit of background information. But it caused an immediate storm, in which I was very slightly caught up, having added a comment of my own about the strange ways the writing process worked. For some of the following commentators, writers were simply not welcome on a book blogging site - they were guilty of abusing the power they had as authors to dominate a space that was not for them. Book blogs and fan sites should be considered a space for fans and book lovers to freely express themselves and not somewhere authors should feel free to gatecrash.
It was all resolved fairly amicably - Ben Aaronovitch backed down with a bit of grumbling, and I apologised profusely for being new to all this and not understanding the rules of the game. But the Hale article did bring this experience back to me.
What both examples make clear, I think, is that engaging in discussion with other people on social media is now the easiest thing in the world to do, but that it's also potentially perilous - what seems to be a simple opening gambit in a conversation can quickly become a reason for several people you've never met to decide they hate you. And thinking about why this is, made me realise that it's partly about the lack of social clues we have online.
Picture this: an author walks into a cafe, orders a coffee, and then realises that at the table next to him are six women, clearly friends, all discussing why they don't really like his new book. He would have to be completely mad or utterly self-obsessed to lean across and say, "Excuse me, ladies, that point you've just made is very interesting, but as the author, I'd have to say you've misunderstood my intention...." More likely, he'd hide behind a newspaper, or slink out. It's not his place to push into a group which is clearly bounded by longstanding interactions and mutual exchange of opinions. On the web, though, it's hard to see those boundaries, easier to think this is a discussion open to anyone who happens to wander past.
We've probably all had the experience of adding comments on a forum discussion, only to have what we've said utterly ignored as the next commentator simply replies to the one before you, and the next one carries on as if you never said anything. It feels like a snub (it is a snub) - but if this were real life, the group discussing this burning issue would be that bunch of students who always occupy the table in the corner of the canteen, looking daggers at anyone who even thinks about sitting next to them - and we wouldn't be in the least surprised if they ignored our comment. (We'd almost certainly never make it in the first place.)
Would you interrupt the conversation?
As social animals, we have built up over generations the ability to detect the smallest social clues about other people and groups around us. The kinds of interaction we engage in with other people are largely determined by our previous interactions with them, their status as friends or family or work colleagues. Even with total strangers we can use visible clues like dress, body language, expression, context, to judge what is or isn't appropriate. All these help us to 'see' the boundaries that we would be transgressing and the trouble we could be causing if we were to be, for example, inappropriately intimate or aggressive or opinionated.
The trouble with social media is these clues are just not there. We've only had access to this multitude of potential conversations with strangers for a very short time, and people appear on it as little more than speech. Speech which is devoid of accents, of voice, of clues about who this person is. It's like wandering in a dark fog, listening to many voices all talking at random - but the people behind the voices are invisible. So we have to make guesses about what kinds of people they are, and whether we are gatecrashing through an invisible boundary, or striking up a conversation with someone genuinely interested in talking to us.
Those speaking to each other on a forum, a blog, on Goodreads, can appear as simply a bunch of individuals interested in the same topic, a bunch of reasonable, open individuals who would welcome a newcomer to their midst. Sometimes that is exactly what they are. But sometimes, the invisible boundaries are as fierce as barbed wire, and we cross them at our peril.
The way invisible boundaries are so difficult to negotiate sometimes makes me want to give up on all forms of online interaction. Like Liz Kessler, who posted recently about social media on ABBA (here), I have considered just ditching all of it in favour of interactions in real life only. But, in the end, I don't, because so far I've managed to negotiate those boundaries more or less unscathed, and in the process I've 'met' some really brilliant people (some of whom I've gone on to really meet).
The fact is, most people on social media ARE open, engaged, reasonable and friendly, and, if you transgress an invisible boundary, they are usually polite enough to just inform you gently that you're in the wrong place. But I do think it's important to be aware that just because those boundaries are invisible, doesn't mean they are not there - and when you find a clear notice that says "Authors (or whoever) are Not Welcome Beyond this Point", it probably pays to respect it.
C.J. Busby writes funny, fast-paced fantasy for children aged 7-12. Her latest books, Dragon Amber, is published by Templar.
I just reviewed yet another “hot off the press” piano composition. It was posted on Facebook by someone I don’t know – either as a person or by reputation. It looks good, but that is only because note-writing software has become so easy-to-use that anyone with the most basic knowledge can quickly crank out a “could-have-been-published” looking piece.
This particular piece doesn’t sound very good. It is mismatched. The notes themselves are at an upper-beginning level, yet it’s written with a complicated key signature and accidentals only an advanced student could understand. There are notational errors. Yet, I know that many unknowing teachers will print it off and rush it to their unfortunate students before the day is out without knowing better.
My professional life is better because of my Facebook presence that I control from the comfort of my hilltop home in a small town. I have made connections with numerous wonderful teachers I might not have met otherwise. I have discovered new books and interesting repertoire and also have contributed my two cents when I felt called to do so. I recognize, however, that I have been thrown without rank or file, onto a massive heap of piano teachers. Perhaps I stand out because of my reputation, but probably not. Up until recent times, the gatekeepers of quality have included respected publishers and one’s reputation through professional associations. Facebook’s format equalizes everyone regardless of accomplishment or education. There is no gatekeeper here.
I work in an unregulated industry as an independent music teacher in the United States. No professional degrees, training, or licensing of any kind is necessary to start up a studio. One simply needs to hang a sign and gather willing students. While this has been a longstanding issue in our field, recent trends in social media have combined with advances in technology to make everyone look equally valid on the screen. It is impossible to discern from a glance whether one’s content is senseless, stellar, or stolen.
With the ease of creating websites, music teachers have jumped into the writing arena. No credentials are needed to set up a site, write something, and post links in every professional music group on Facebook. The volume is overwhelming and often includes blog posts that are only copies or rewrites of someone else’s work. From appearances on screen, there is no way to sort the good from the bad and unethical.
Likewise, when questions are posed in groups, anyone can answer. There are no algorithms measuring the veracity or usefulness of an answer, or even the level of competence of the person responding. Running parallel to this is an anti-educational drumbeat that attempts to elevate those who have no formal education in their field to the highest level of achievement simply because they have passion for what they do. “People don’t know what they don’t know” as the old saying goes, and on Facebook no one seems bashful in rushing to confirm the truth of this statement. On the ubiquitous blue and white screen we all stand as equals — or at least we look like we do.
Adding to this are the wearisome writers who purport that “having fun” should supersede the steady and sturdy learning that is required to gain success in any field. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with fun, but students subjected to a form of “teaching” with only pleasant, mindless activities devoid of content or educational merit will never see a reasonable level of achievement — certainly not enough for them to gain entry into a respectable music school.
Untrained teachers whose main goal is keeping kids happy are falling into this trap by droves by using well-marketed, but substandard and mostly self-published literature that is woefully lacking in sound pedagogy. There is a bandwagon mentality of rushing to download the latest composition or method, which leads to a sense of belonging to the coolest group in high school – I mean – on Facebook. But, when one method advertises that “Our teachers do not need to possess advanced playing skills, prior teaching experience or a music degree. They must simply love to play the piano…” where is it all headed?
Parents would never allow their children to study math with someone who simply had a passion for adding up numbers, yet many sign them up for music lessons without researching the qualifications of the instructors or the soundness of the materials. The books are slick, the websites dynamic, and the appearances on Facebook omnipresent. But does the emperor actually have any clothes?
With 8,000 piano teachers in one group and several thousand in others, it is an unmanageable task to separate the wheat from the chaff. I suspect that these groups will have short shelf lives moving forward as their members begin to realize the unreliability of the information and the questionable value of material shared. What this backlash will create is yet to be determined, but I trust it will be a positive, quality-driven platform. For me, this can’t happen soon enough.
I'll be stopping by to give away books and visiting from 4-4:30 EST to help celebrate!
REIGN - An Unfortunate Fairy Tale
Releases NOV 3rd. 2014
Going to the Fae plane against Jared's orders has cost Mina dearly. Her decision haunts her as a new danger surfaces back on the human plane. The Grimms are fading from existence. To save her family's future, Mina Grime will have to travel to the past with the help of her Fae Godmother and a pair of magic shoes.
She must go to the Story's very beginning, to the days before the dark prince's reign. But can she finish her quest before her time runs out, or will she be trapped in the past forever?
Everyone who pre orders and buys their ebook copy before Nov 10th will receive Jared’s Quest: An unfortunate Fairy Tale Short Story as bonus material in the ebook.
Chanda is a bestselling and award winning author of the UnEnchanted: An Unfortunate Fairy Tale series and the Iron Butterfly series. She’s been a bestseller in five countries and was named one of Amazon’s top 100 customer favorite author. She uses her experience as a children’s pastor, children’s librarian and bookseller to write compelling and popular fiction for teens. She was born in Seattle, WA, grew up in Nebraska and currently resides in Portland, Oregon with her husband and their twin children.
One thing that you as a marketer can count on is online marketing is constantly changing, especially social media.
Jeff Bullas has a great article on a new Facebook ruling that marketers will love.
You're now allowed to include a CTA (call-to-action) in your header.
How 'marketing cool' is that.
The first thing a visitor will see when he lands on your page is the header. Now Facebook
We all had to know that sooner or later FREE social media networking would come to an end. Well, that end it coming soon.
According to sources, including National Report, Facebook has plans to implement a $2.99 monthly fee to all its users. This fee is to begin this November.
In a press conference in California this past weekend, Mark Zuckerberg broke the news. Rising costs are no match for
For a while now I’ve found it a bit pointless to focus on Facebook as part of my social media marketing efforts. It’s been a while since the reigning king of the social media world reduced the visibility results of your postings. Now, they have a new algorithm reducing your posts’ visibility to around 2% of your fanbase, more likely less.
I don’t get it.
Okay, well maybe I do. They want you
I think the money makers at Diamond Select Toys are secretly testing the market for an upcoming adult toy line.
The Free Comic Book Day Facebook page posted a typical a nerd baiting question with no possible answer: who would win in fight between Spider-Man’s most popular nemesis Venom or the cult classic 80’s extraterrestrial nightmare Xenomorph? Of course this wasn’t a sponsored post to promote Diamond Select Toys wide variety bottle openers, but it sure as hell looks like it. The comments are full of well informed, substantial arguments on who would come on top. But some Facebook users couldn’t help to mention the fact that the Xenomorph opener bares a striking resemblance of a penis.
How could Venom fare against Xenomorph’s veiny, long shaft and bulbous mushroom tip? I couldn’t image using this cold metal bottle opener bringing any kind of pleasure aside from opening a cold brewski, but the people of the Internet will find a way. Nonetheless, you can’t but help but appreciate the H. R. Giger work on the Alien series. Diamond Select Toys would like to remind you that Christmas is around the corner, and this would make a good stocking stuffer. Talk about gag gifts. *This was not a sponsored post by Diamond Select Toys.*
What books have you read that stayed with you? Among Facebook users, the most popular answer to this question was Harry Potter.
A meme that recently picked up steam on the social network, had users sharing the top 10 books that had stayed with them. As is typical of a social action, the exercise instructed users, “Don’t take more than a few minutes, and don’t think too hard. They do not have to be the ‘right’ books or great works of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way.”
Facebook users took on the challenge and the game went viral. The social network examined the findings to conclude which books were most popular on this list. (more…)
Facebook celebrated its tenth anniversary in February. It has over 1.2 billion active users — equating to one user for every seven people worldwide. This social networking phenomenon has not only given our society a new way of sharing information with others; it’s changed the way we think about “liking” and “friending.” Actually, “friending” was not even considered a proper word until Facebook popularized its use. Traditionally, a friend is not just a person one knows, but a person with whom one shares personal affection, connection, trust, and familiarity. Under Facebook-speak, friending is simply the act of attaching a person to a contact list on the social networking website. One does not have to like, trust, or even know people in order to friend them. The purpose of friending is to connect people interested in sharing information. Some people friend only “traditional friends.” Others friend people on Facebook who are “mere acquaintances,” business associates, and even people with whom they have no prior relationship. On Facebook, “liking” is supposed to indicate that the person enjoys or is partial to the story, photo, or other content that someone has posted on Facebook. One does not have to be a friend to like someone’s content, and one may also like content on other websites.
Unbeknown to many Facebook users is how Facebook and other websites gather and use information about people’s friending and liking behaviors. For instance, the data gathered by Facebook is used to help determine which advertisements a particular user sees. Although Facebook does have some privacy protection features, many people do not use them, meaning that they are sharing private information with anyone who has access to the Internet. Even if a person tries to restrict information to “friends,” there are no provisions to ensure that the friends to not share the information with others, posting information in publically accessible places or simply sharing information in a good, old-fashioned manner – oral gossip. So, given what we know (and perhaps don’t know) about liking and friending, should social workers like their clients, encourage clients to like them, or friend their clients?
When considering the use of online social networking, social workers need to consider their ethical duties with respect to their primary commitment to clients, their duty to maintain appropriate professional boundaries, and their duty to protect confidential client information (NASW, Code of Ethics, 2008, Standards 1.01, 1.06, and 1.07). Allow me to begin with the actual situation that instigated my thinking about these issues. Recently, I saw a social worker’s Facebook page advertising her services. She encouraged potential clients to become friends and to like her. She offered a 10% discount in counseling fees for clients who liked her. What could possibly be a problem with providing clients with this sort of discount? The worker was providing clients with a benefit, and all they had to do was like her… they didn’t even have to become her friend.
In terms of 1.01, the social worker should ask herself whether she was acting in a way that promoted client interests, or whether she was primarily promoting her own interests. If her decision to offer discounts was purely a decision to promote profits (her interests), then she may be taking advantage (perhaps unintentionally) of her clients. If her clients were receiving benefits that outweighed the costs and risks, then she may be in a better position to justify the requests for friends and likes.
With regard to maintaining appropriate boundaries, the worker should ask how clients perceive her requests for friends and likes. Do clients understand that the requests are in the context of maintaining a professional relationship, or might terms such as friending and liking blur the distinctions between professional and social relationships? If she truly wants to know whether clients value her services (as opposed to like), perhaps she should use a more valid and reliable measurement of client satisfaction or worker effectiveness. There are no Likert-type scales when it comes to liking on Facebook. You can only “like” or “do nothing.”
Confidentiality presents perhaps the most difficult issues when it comes to liking and friending. When a client likes a social worker who specializes in gambling addiction, for instance, does the client know that he may start receiving advertisements for gambling treatment services… or perhaps for casinos, gambling websites, or racetracks? Who knows what other businesses might be harvesting online information about the client. “OMG!” Further, does the client realize that the client’s Facebook friends will know the client likes the social worker? Although the client is not explicitly stating he is a client, others may draw this conclusion – and remember, these “others” are not necessarily restricted to the client’s trusted confidantes. They may include co-workers, neighbors, future employers, or others who may not hold the client’s best interests to heart.
One could say it’s a matter of consent – the worker is not forcing the client to like her, so liking is really an expression of the client’s free will. All sorts of businesses offer perks to people who like or friend them. Shouldn’t clients be allowed to pursue a discount as long as they know the risks? Hmmm… do they know the actual risks? Do they know that what seems like an innocuous act – liking – may have severe consequences one day? Consider, is it truly an expression of free will if the worker is using a financial incentive – particularly if clients have very limited income and means to pay for services? Further, young children and people with dementia or other mental conditions may not have the capacity to understand the risks and make truly informed choices.
Digital natives (people born into the digital age) might say these are the ramblings of an old curmudgeon (ok, they probably woudn’t use the term curmudgeon). When considering the ethicality of social work behaviors, we need to consider context. The context of Facebook, for instance, includes a culture where sharing seems to be valued much more than privacy. Many digital natives share intimate details of their life without grave concerns about their confidentiality. They have not experienced negative repercussions from posting details about their intimate relationships, break-ups, triumphs, challenges, and even embarrassments. They may not view liking a social worker’s website any riskier than liking their favorite ice cream parlor. So, to a large segment of Facebook users, is this whole issue much ado about nothing?
In the context of Internet risks, there are far more severe concerns than social workers asking clients to like them on Facebook. Graver Internet risks include cyber-bulling, identity theft, and hacking into national defense, financial institutions, and other important systems that are vulnerable to cyber-terrorism. Still, social workers should be cautious about asking clients to like them… on Facebook or otherwise.
The Internet offers social workers many different approaches to communicating with clients. Online communication should not be feared. On the other hand, social workers should consider all potential risks and benefits before making use of a particular online communication strategy. Social work and many other helping professions are still grappling with the ethicality of various online communication strategies with clients. What is hugely popular now – including Facebook – may continue to grow in popularity. However, with time and experience, significant risks may be exposed. Some technologies may lose popularity, and others may take their place.
Headline image credit: Internet icons and symbols. Public domain via Pixabay.
Twitter is getting ambitious. In fact, it’s recent changes show just how ambitious . . . and just how much they want to be like Facebook.
A couple of recent changes include:
The Twitter Header – you can now upload your own unique header on your account. I like this feature because if you take advantage of it (and use it right) your readers and visitors will quickly know what you’re about.
In partnership with Facebook, I want to do a truly global signing to coincide with the launch of my new book. If you are in London, New York, Sao Paulo or Hyderabad you can enter to win a ticket to take part in these events and receive a personalised digital signature from me via ground breaking technology. If you’re not in those cities, you won’t be disappointed as you can take a seat in the Facebook Digital Stadium to watch a live Q&A session where I will answer questions from fans around the world.
AppNewser has more: “Beckham didn’t explain which technology he will be using to provide digital autographs with.Autography is one option. The platform lets authors digital books digitally and deliver them to the pages of eBooks.”
So it seems I hit a little blog lull, quite unexpectedly. I write posts in my head every day, all through the day (it’s why I began blogging in the first place, you know: thinking in narrative is the way my brain has always, always worked)—but lately I seem prone to tossing a thought or a quip or a link onto Facebook instead of chronicling here. And yet I recoil, actually, from the idea of handing over one’s mental activity to the data-miners and the the rushing update stream. I have this looping conversation with myself over and over. If you blog and are also active on Facebook, I bet you know exactly what I mean.
On Facebook, people leave comments: that’s one point in its favor, part of its great appeal. And let me back up and say how much I love certain aspects of Facebook! I champion it often, when people are running it down for being shallow or negative. Facebook gave me what no other medium has: daily contact with my faraway cousins, my old school friends, my coworkers from jobs long past. Very precious contact, actually. Friendships rekindled and deepened. Road trips made merry (and potentially safer) by en route updates, with friends keeping tabs on us and inviting us to stop and stretch our legs as we made our way across the country and back. There are things Facebook can do that this blog cannot.
But: vice versa! Such riches I have tucked into the archives here—family treasures, I mean. Stories I’d certainly have forgotten, had I not recorded them here. A diary of sorts of our homeschooling journey. An annotated reading journal. A commonplace book, with pictures. Oh, I love this blog, what it’s given me. Including the friends: no small matter, that. Facebook reconnected me with old friends. Blogging gave me new ones, and I count those friendships as very real and rich indeed.
I don’t comment on your blogs nearly often enough. I’m still probably among your most faithful readers, though, did you know that? I find myself reaching for the like button to let you know I’ve appreciated a post, am nodding my head at your insight or smiling at your joke. On Facebook people snark about the superficiality of ‘likes.’ I understand why, it’s quick and glancing, it’s not saying anything meaningful, it sometimes suggests an unfortunate endorsement of the wrong half of a sentence. (“I got an offer on a YA novel today! But then I fell and broke my leg.” Er, like? No, wait!) But that silly like button serves a purpose. I means I’m here, I’m reading this, I took note of what you said, I’m glad you shared. If I could click a button on Feedly to let you know I’d appreciated a post, you can bet I would. Clicking through to actually comment, now…oh, I wish I were better about it. Sometimes it’s captcha that deters me, or login technicalities. (Blogger gets very grumpy with me when I don’t want to comment as Melissa Wiley’s Official Data-Providing Google Account, which I loathe doing on friends blogs because I’m just Lissa to you, right? And I can never remember my WordPress login on blogs that aren’t mine.) But other times, a friendly comment is an easy click away and I still don’t take the time, because I’m probably reading your post on my phone, and I really really hate typing with my thumbs.
A Facebook update is much more likely to generate discussion these days, at least for me. Of course, Facebook is such a combustible stew of people from all one’s different worlds and walks of life—sometimes I cringe, seeing all my people jumbled up together that way. I’ve tried separating my personal and professional worlds there but it’s flat impossible. Colleagues become friends, and then what do you do? Make them switch accounts? Who can keep up with multiple accounts anyway? Not I.
All of this is musing without agenda: I simply thought I’d try thinking aloud here the way I did in the olden days of blogging. You know, way back in 2006.
For my own amusement, a few of the topics I’ve posted about on social media recently:
• geocaching, which has become our favorite pastime, and I could talk about it ENDLESSLY for HOURS (see one diabolically clever hiding place in the photo above—oh how we shrieked!)
• how I’ve started writing serious poems again, and I really miss my old grad-school poetry workshop mates and the close readings we used to do of our own poems and others
• Coursera classes I’m taking (alone or with various kids), and many many thoughts about how we use Coursera—and actually I have a long post half-written on that subject. It began here (is still in drafts) and spilled over to Facebook, and judging from that conversation I actually have a lot of practical information to share on the topic.
• related: gossip as a vital tool for human survival—one of the many fascinating points of discussion in the Coursera “Brief History of Humankind” class I’m taking, about which I have LOADS OF THINGS to say
• also related: the Coursera “Modern and Contemporary Poetry” course is wonderful and is going a long way to satisfy my ache for close readings, since each week’s lesson consists of video discussions (grad students and professor) of several different poems—one poem per fifteen(ish)-minute video, perfect for diving into in small chunks of time, which is all I have
• a mocking gripe about my internet service provider, not worth recording
• links to various articles, all of which I’ve shared in the sidebar here anyway
• my delight over the first sketches for Inch and Roly #3
• a picture of The Greatest American Hero, which generated more comments than anything else I’ve posted this month
• the sudden realization after all these years that in the Magic School Bus theme song, the guy is not actually saying “Make a sacrifice on Mars.”
• and in the comments of the above, the revelation that “the guy” is none other than Little Richard!!!
• an adorable photo of my boys
• Overheard, 7yo to 4yo: “I’m going to teach you three things. The first one is Pounce, and it goes like this.”
We are so excited about our latest book, The Christmas Owl, that we are giving away two prizes to one lucky winner. Our prize is a 5-inch stuffed owl and a signed hardcover version of The Christmas Owl. This story follows a Barred owl becomes injured and must ask others for help. He promises to give back to those who have a generous heart and he is true to his word. This colorful holiday tale is perfect for children aged eight and under.
This giveaway ends on December 13th at midnight so ENTER today.
Okay, this is a bit off topic for an art and baby blog. But if you know me, you know I am a HUGE Leo DiCaprio fan! I always was!
I decided to start a Leonardo DiCaprio fan page on Facebook earlier this year, because I have folders upon folders upon folders (you get the point, lol) of Leo pictures that are just sitting on my hard drive, and it would be selfish not to let others enjoy them as well. And I'm not selfish. Nope, not selfish at all! Unless we're talking about chocolate.... So if you're a Leo fan, click on over to Facebook and click the LIKE to see We Love Leonardo pics in your news feed, DAILY (or almost daily)!
I thought I'd mention this because I do share my blog posts on my Facebook pages (I have several) and I have a Leo DiCaprio board on Pinterest as well! You know, if you have any Pinterest interest. =)
Thanks for dropping by today!
Disclaimer: I am NOT affiliated with Leo! I don't know him. Please do not send me any mail for him, etc.! This is a fan page only! Just for fun! Enjoy the pics!Add a Comment
Ok. I think every author concerned with reaching out with their readers, networking with other authors and selling more books is either engaged on social media or has at least thought about it. The two (in my opinion) heavy weight entities with regards to social media are Facebook and Twitter. These two networks have their fans.
I have to admit that I used to be a big fan of Facebook as it was easy to migrate from having a personal account to a fan page. I understood how it worked and I could apply what I was doing on an almost daily basis on my Facebook Personal account to my Fan page. On the other hand, this Monster called Twitter, just didn’t make sense. I mean wasn’t the whole concept of Twitter similar to shouting in a market place?
Now it has to be said that the amount of your followers does not determine how influential a person is on any social network. I have seen Facebook fan pages with thousands of fans but only a handful currently engaged with the posts on that page. An effective social media network should do at least one of the following:
Help you to easily find people interested in your passions and interests.
Facilitate easy connection with people who share your passions and interests.
Enable a conversation with people that share your passions and interests.
Now with the algorithm changes at Facebook, it has become almost nigh on impossible to do any of the above. Can you think of a painless way to get discovered by people on Facebook who like the books you like? Most authors (and I’m one of them) no longer see the same traction Facebook once provided.
However, Twitter provides the three benefits I highlighted above. Central to the ease of seeing and being seen on the Twitterverse are little things known as hashtags. If you’re on Twitter, you’ve probably seen someone leave a message like this
‘Can’t wait to read the latest #mystery #novel by Harlan Coben.’
The symbol ‘#’ before the words mystery and novel render them as hashtags. Anyone on Twitter who is interested in mystery novels can search for those hashtags, find your tweet and either retweet (that is broadcast your tweet to their followers), favourite (similar to liking a post on Facebook) and/or reply to your post. As an author, I usually use the hashtags below:
I’ve found it humbling and exciting when people who don’t even follow me either retweet, favourite or reply to my tweets simply because I have included a hashtag that relates to something they’re interested in. I have made many new friends and acquaintances this way. I have had the parent of a student at a school where I did a reading reach out to me on Twitter. I’ve had a few New York Times Best-selling authors retweet, favourite and/or like my tweets. This week, I had a lovely lady reach out to me on Twitter and share a picture of her grandson with one of my books. The possibilities for connecting with your fans and other book lovers really is bountiful on Twitter. I’d like to encourage you to join Twitter today and join the conversation. There’s a certain group of people who are speaking your language and will gladly welcome you into their fold as to share with you and have you share with them.
I’ll still keep using Facebook but my main stop when I think of social media is Twitter.
I’d highly recommend Denice Shaw’s book as it contains many useful tips, etiquette, resources to help you understand and use Twitter well. Get it at the link below
Are you still finding joy on Facebook? Or perhaps Twitter still doesn’t make sense to you. Or maybe you use LinkedIn or some other social media network that you’d highly recommend. I really would like to hear your thoughts and comments, so drop a line or two in the comment box below and you can follow me on Twitter @davidchuka
Scientists at Facebook have published a paper showing that they manipulated the content seen by more than 600,000 users in an attempt to determine whether this would affect their emotional state. The paper, “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks,” was published in The Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences. It shows how Facebook data scientists tweaked the algorithm that determines which posts appear on users’ news feeds—specifically, researchers skewed the number of positive or negative terms seen by randomly selected users. Facebook then analyzed the future postings of those users over the course of a week to see if people responded with increased positivity or negativity of their own, thus answering the question of whether emotional states can be transmitted across a social network. Result: They can! Which is great news for Facebook data scientists hoping to prove a point about modern psychology. It’s less great for the people having their emotions secretly manipulated.
I uploaded this picture last night, intending to write my usual sort of daily-chronicle post. Then my eye wandered from the rainbows inscribed on the bubble to the blunt, browned ends of the grass and I got distracted by the ruthlessness with which we shear off the fertile edges of nature. I wandered off to bed, musing, leaving the post unwritten. (Huck’s finger is much improved, was the gist.)
This morning, after reading the article quoted above (about a different kind of bubble, a ruthlessness altogether unsurprising but disgusting nonetheless), I came back here and found the photo waiting. And now I see that I’m in the picture too, there inside the bubble, taking a photo of the green world on the other side of the film. You could work up quite a metaphor there, obvious, clumsy, but apt: the insubstantial bubbles, the world outside, the illusions of people that aren’t the persons themselves.
But my frustrations aren’t philosophical (of course Facebook was always going to exploit us in every way possible) but practical. The reason a billion people have handed over their (our) data to Facebook is, at heart, a practical one: it’s the most efficient platform anyone has yet come up with for letting us keep in touch with a large number of friends and family at once. We failed at writing letters. Good phone conversations, while satisfying, take immense chunks of time. If you want to keep up with each other’s daily lives, the little things, you have to talk every couple of days (at the least) or else there’s too much ground to cover and you must out of necessity abridge.
Yahoogroups worked, for a while—you could engage in meaningful discourse or chummy banter with a good-sized group of people at once. But generally most of those relationships were new, were forged because of the group, by means of the group. I made some lifelong friends that way (hello, TAMs! hello, Karen!) but (I don’t like that ‘but’; it sounds like a devaluation of the friendships on its left, and that isn’t what I mean at all)—but—but my high-school friends didn’t form a Yahoogroup. My college friends didn’t. We kept to our phone calls, our occasional letters and visits. I read letters six times and treasured them, and didn’t write back, or did but didn’t stop for stamps.
After a while, most of the Yahoogroups I was part of morphed into discussion boards (more efficient, because they allowed for topic-sorting; less efficient, because they required administration and management) or faded into disuse. I think I’m still signed up to forty-odd lists. I get mail from three, and read one and a half. It’s years since I logged into a discussion board.
Then came blogs. Those of us still doggedly blogging for personal reasons look back on 2005 and 2006 with nostalgia: we remember what it was like in those days, less than a decade ago, when we were for the first time opening our front doors and saying here’s my house, come in. We shared too much, made friends, celebrated art and nature, got in fights, copied one another or got furious about being copied—all the same things we’d done on AOL in 1995 and in email groups in 1999, only now with photos of our children. We formed new and very real friendships: real and strange, because we knew (know) so much about each other and have watched each other’s children grow up, and yet we live so far away some of us may never meet. When one of us goes silent for a while, the others worry. Sometimes I’ll think: if she dies, I might never know what happened.
That’s if she isn’t on Facebook. Because that’s what Facebook does better than blogging—connects wide groups of people and spreads news they wouldn’t necessarily publish on any other website—and Facebook is why only a fraction of my friends-who-blogged are blogging still. Facebook IS blogging. It’s everyone blogging at once on the same platform, a platform cleverly managed (manipulated) for purposes we all agree are greedy at best, and not guided by principles that put our best interests remotely near the top of the priority list.
I love Facebook. I hate Facebook. I have loved and hated it since the day I joined. Facebook gave me back friends I had lost: that’s the sum total of my reason for loving it, and it’s immense. All those other platforms brought me new friends. Facebook reunited me with old ones. I don’t need to dress it up in metaphors. I’d lost touch with some of the people I loved best, and Facebook gave them back to me. It gave me what blogging didn’t: daily contact with beloved cousins and old school friends. Every day, it gave (gives) me photos and anecdotes of their lives, their children, their pets, their loved ones, their work. How can I measure the value of that?
If all the people I loved were inclined to blog—to blog about their personal lives, no less—I wouldn’t need a platform like Facebook. Somehow, Facebook accomplished the miraculous feat of convincing all these old friends to blog as we were doing, with oversharing and our children’s faces and outrage and sorrow and delight. And commenting is easier there, it just IS: fast, efficient (it always comes back to efficiency), and rewarded by a heartening LIKE. And—significantly—more conversational. You can reply back and forth quickly, in real-time like chat. Don’t blog comments feel more formal somehow? They didn’t use to. I feel like we used to chitchat more in the combox, but maybe that’s nostalgia. It’s probably just the time delay. If I reply to your comment here, it’s probably a day after you wrote it, and who knows if you even see the reply.
It’s strange, actually, the way we feel safer about sharing our personal stories on Facebook. We know we’re the product there; the evidence is thrust before us every time we open the tab and see a sidebar ad for a book we looked at on a different website the day before. We rail about the way they keep resetting the news feed from ‘most recent’ to ‘top stories,’ we fume at each sneaky privacy-policy change, we wince each time another website wants us to log in via Facebook before we can leave a comment.
But we go back, because that’s where our friends are posting photos of their their babies, their travels, their graduations. Because it’s a mini college reunion every time one of us posts and all our classmates chime in, laughing over an old shared joke. Because we have history together, and we care about one another’s present-day lives. Because if something serious happens, you’re going to tell your Facebook friends before you put it on a blog.
To leave, or to make the decision never to go in the first place (for reasons I respect and with a resolve I may at times envy a little), is to cut yourself off from a certain flow of information. There’s plenty of nonsense and trivia on Facebook, as there is in all forms of human interaction, including some of the best phone calls I’ve ever had. But there’s a great deal of the Real, the Good, the True there too, and it’s that—not simply the dopamine hit, as many theorists would have us believe—that brings us back. It’s genuine curiosity. It’s, to be blunt, love. I love you and I want to know how you’re doing. If Facebook is where you’re showing me, how can I stay away?
I would pay for an ad-free social connection site with no data-mining and no gross user manipulation of the sort revealed in the newly published study described in the article above. (You can click through from the article to the study itself.) But—here’s what I know. I know it’s unlikely a critical mass of my friends and relatives would too. Facebook caught us because it was free, and because there was a numerical tipping point: so many of us are there now, you really are missing something if you aren’t. Which isn’t to say anyone should be there who doesn’t want to be: I wouldn’t presume. As I said, I respect and admire their reasons for staying away.
But I’m a practical person, and I know what I’ll miss out on if I leave. I’m 46 years old and I’ve lived in a lot of places. I love a great many people. As I said on Facebook this morning when I shared the link above—my last act before logging out for a breather—”But how will I get my YOU fix?”
When we use a computer, its performance seems to degrade progressively. This is not a mere impression. An old version of Firefox, the free Web browser, was infamous for its “memory leaks”: it would consume increasing amounts of memory to the detriment of other programs. Bugs in the software actually do slow down the system. We all know what the solution is: reboot. We restart the computer, the memory is reset, and the performance is restored, until the bugs slow it down again.
Philosophy is a bit like a computer with a memory leak. It starts well, dealing with significant and serious issues that matter to anyone. Yet, in time, its very success slows it down. Philosophy begins to care more about philosophers’ questions than philosophical ones, consuming increasing amount of intellectual attention. Scholasticism is the ultimate freezing of the system, the equivalent of Windows’ “blue screen of death”; so many resources are devoted to internal issues that no external input can be processed anymore, and the system stops. The world may be undergoing a revolution, but the philosophical discourse remains detached and utterly oblivious. Time to reboot the system.
Philosophical “rebooting” moments are rare. They are usually prompted by major transformations in the surrounding reality. Since the nineties, I have been arguing that we are witnessing one of those moments. It now seems obvious, even to the most conservative person, that we are experiencing a turning point in our history. The information revolution is profoundly changing every aspect of our lives, quickly and relentlessly. The list is known but worth recalling: education and entertainment, communication and commerce, love and hate, politics and conflicts, culture and health, … feel free to add your preferred topics; they are all transformed by technologies that have the recording and processing of information as their core functions. Meanwhile, philosophy is degrading into self-referential discussions on irrelevancies.
The result of a philosophical rebooting today can only be beneficial. Digital technologies are not just tools merely modifying how we deal with the world, like the wheel or the engine. They are above all formatting systems, which increasingly affect how we understand the world, how we relate to it, how we see ourselves, and how we interact with each other.
The ‘Fourth Revolution’ betrays what I believe to be one of the topics that deserves our full intellectual attention today. The idea is quite simple. Three scientific revolutions have had great impact on how we see ourselves. In changing our understanding of the external world they also modified our self-understanding. After the Copernican revolution, the heliocentric cosmology displaced the Earth and hence humanity from the centre of the universe. The Darwinian revolution showed that all species of life have evolved over time from common ancestors through natural selection, thus displacing humanity from the centre of the biological kingdom. And following Freud, we acknowledge nowadays that the mind is also unconscious. So we are not immobile, at the centre of the universe, we are not unnaturally separate and diverse from the rest of the animal kingdom, and we are very far from being minds entirely transparent to ourselves. One may easily question the value of this classic picture. After all, Freud was the first to interpret these three revolutions as part of a single process of reassessment of human nature and his perspective was blatantly self-serving. But replace Freud with cognitive science or neuroscience, and we can still find the framework useful to explain our strong impression that something very significant and profound has recently happened to our self-understanding.
Since the fifties, computer science and digital technologies have been changing our conception of who we are. In many respects, we are discovering that we are not standalone entities, but rather interconnected informational agents, sharing with other biological agents and engineered artefacts a global environment ultimately made of information, the infosphere. If we need a champion for the fourth revolution this should definitely be Alan Turing.
The fourth revolution offers a historical opportunity to rethink our exceptionalism in at least two ways. Our intelligent behaviour is confronted by the smart behaviour of engineered artefacts, which can be adaptively more successful in the infosphere. Our free behaviour is confronted by the predictability and manipulability of our choices, and by the development of artificial autonomy. Digital technologies sometimes seem to know more about our wishes than we do. We need philosophy to make sense of the radical changes brought about by the information revolution. And we need it to be at its best, for the difficulties we are facing are challenging. Clearly, we need to reboot philosophy now.
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Image credit: Alan Turing Statue at Bletchley Park. By Ian Petticrew. CC-BY-SA-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Social media and other technologies have changed how we communicate. Consider how we coordinate events and contact our friends and family members today, versus how we did it 20 or 30 years ago. Today, we often text, email, or communicate through social media more frequently than we phone or get together in person.
Now contrast that with psychotherapy, which is still about two people getting together in a room and talking. Certainly, technology has changed psychotherapy. There are now apps for mental health issues. There are virtual reality treatments. Psychotherapy can now be provided through videoconferencing (a.k.a. telehealth). But still, it’s usually simply two people talking in a room.
Our psychotherapy clients communicate with everyone else they know through multiple technological platforms. Should we let them “friend” us on social media? Should we link to them on professional networking sites? Is it ok to text with them? What about email? When are these ok and not ok?
Social Media Explained (with Donuts). Uploaded by Chris Lott. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.
Some consensus is emerging about these issues. Experts agree that psychotherapists should not connect with current or former clients on social media. This is to help preserve the clients’ confidentiality. Emailing and texting are fine for communicating brief messages about the parameters of the session, such as confirming the appointment time, or informing the psychotherapist that the client is running late. Research has shown that emotional tone is frequently miscommunicated in texting and email, so emotion-laden topics are best discussed during the session.
How do we learn about new people we’ve met? In the past, we’d talk directly to them, and maybe also talk to people we knew in common. Now everyone seems to search online for everyone else. This happens frequently with first dates, college applicants, and job applicants.
Again, contrast this with psychotherapy. Again, two people are sitting in a room, talking and learning about each other. When is it ok for a psychotherapist to search for information about a client online? What if the psychotherapist discovers important information that the client withheld? How do these discoveries impact the psychotherapy?
No clear consensus has emerged on these issues. Some experts assert that psychotherapists should almost never search online for clients. Other experts respond that it is unreasonable to expect that psychotherapists should not access publicly available information. Others suggest examining each situation on a case-by-case basis. One thing is clear: psychotherapists should communicate with their clients about their policies on internet searches. This should be done in the beginning of psychotherapy, as part of the informed consent process.
When we’ve voluntarily posted information online–and when information about us is readily available in news stories, court documents, or other public sources–we don’t expect this information to be private. For this reason, I find the assertion that psychotherapists can access publically available information to be more compelling. On my intake forms, I invite clients to send me a link to their LinkedIn profile instead of describing their work history, if they prefer. If a client mentions posting her artwork online, I’ll suggest that she send me a link to it or ask her how to find it. I find that clients are pleased that I take an interest.
What about the psychotherapist’s privacy? What if the client follows the psychotherapist’s Twitter account or blog? What if the client searches online for the psychotherapist? What if the client discovers personal information about the psychotherapist by searching? Here’s the short answer: psychotherapists need to avoid posting anything online that we don’t want everyone, including our clients, to see.
Ways to communicate online continue to proliferate. For example, an app that sends only the word “Yo” was recently capitalized to the tune of $2.5 million and was downloaded over 2 million times. Our professional ethics codes are revised infrequently (think years), while new apps and social media are emerging monthly, even daily. Expert consensus on how to manage these new communications technologies emerges slowly (again, think years). But psychotherapists have to respond to new communications technologies in the moment, every day. All we can do is keep the client’s well-being and confidentiality as our highest aspiration.
Jan Willer is a clinical psychologist in private practice. For many years, she trained psychology interns at the VA. She is the author of The Beginning Psychotherapist’s Companion, which offers practical suggestions and multicultural clinical examples to illustrate the foundations of ethical psychotherapy practice. She is interested in continuing to bridge the notorious research-practice gap in clinical psychology. Her seminars have been featured at Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and DePaul University.
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