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Home > Internet Safety > Facebook® vs. LinkedIn®

Facebook® vs. LinkedIn®

February 11th, 2011

On December 7, 2010, I posted Keep it Secret…Keep it Safe: Good Advice for Corrections and Social Networking and thought I would share this recently unattended discovery about what corrections folks think is relevant to keep safe and what isn’t a problem to share.

I have a profile on a business and professional networking site, LinkedIn® (Please note this is not a plug for them and no I am not on their payroll). From time to time I try to see if there is anyone in corrections out there on the site, particularly located near me. Well I did a search for a specific term associated with corrections and rehabilitation and came up with about 164 entries in my area.  Problem is the vast majority of these entries are useless. They contain names like Probation Officer, Parole Officer, or an institution’s name.  No one is going to network with these profiles as you can’t tell who the hell they are. The same pattern is present throughout the nation on Linkedin®. You search for a parole officer you can get hundreds of profiles in other cities of no named profiles.  Well, I wondered what if I did the same search for Facebook®. You guessed it ….almost double the entries, with names, pictures of kids, interests, locations, friends, etc. 

Now to be fair Facebook® is the big dog in this comparison with about 500,000,000 users and growing to LinkedIn® with about 80,000,000. Stats  But LinkedIn® has basic information for professionally sharing with other professionals. You control who sees your profile.  Don’t get me wrong, you still could get in trouble on it. I am amazed at professionals who feel the need to tell folks in their network they are in route to a conference, put their DOB on it, or personal cell phone.  Some folks are not shy about telling the world they are looking for a new job, something I am sure their current employer would find curious. Sure their job history and current job is listed.  Additionally, folks you add to your network know your professional connections too. But there are no pictures or details about your kids or your family, unless you post them as your profile pic or put them in your resume information (BAD IDEA).  It is just a different type of networking where it would appear corrections is overly cautious about telling others in the field who they are.  Could someone search for you on LinkedIn®? Hell yes!  So they find out where you work or worked.  Unless you have a stalker that is following you from job to job, they know that already. I mean your offenders you supervise already know you are a probation or parole officer.

It could be corrections folks aren’ aware of LinkedIn® and its professional networking potential. It actually has a pretty good Group function that allows you to join specific discussion groups.  For instance, I have one for Cybercrime Supervision, where folks can post questions, discussions, etc. It could also be that all those Probation/Parole Officers Profiles with no names are a lame attempt by some offenders to get folks to connect with them (I doubt it). 

So corrections folks are perfectly willing to share on Facebook® very intimate details about themselves but on a site designed to help them in their jobs they become secret agents. What up with that?  Hide from fellow professionals but tell the world (and your offenders) your kids are having a ball game on Friday night. Curious ain’t it!

PS: Keep those cards and letters coming folks…. I mean post your questions at The Three C’s: Answers for the Correctional Professional on Cybercrime and don’t forget to check out 25th High Technology Crime Investigation Associations International Training Conference & Expo site. I am pretty darn certain my good friends Wojo and Jimmie are planning a great event…including training on social networking investigations, cell phone forensics investigations and other stuff folks involved in supervising cyber-offenders would find helpful. And always be safe out there, whether in be in cyberspace or in the real world!

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Art Internet Safety

  1. Tom Bryant
    March 10th, 2011 at 18:13 | #1

    Hi again Art. I appreciated your critique and comparison of two social media systems recently. There is much to learn in public safety circles it is true about how to use technology like LinkedIn® to networking advantage and how to keep safe those we care about personally and professionally in the process. I too have found it surprising how much IDENT/CONTACT info people will post publicly on Facebook® without seriously considering the privacy setting choices. I have also found the dichotomy with LinkedIn® where sharing seems more confined. It seems to be still developing its value though I think it’s here to stay and has more apparent potential in the professional world as far as I am concerned. I think the naivete as regards information sharing is mostly unconscious so I’m glad you keep challenging assumptions and “asking the second question” where safety is concerned.

    As to how to improve access to valid contacts, I know in my former roles in Corrections and Parole I valued my contacts greatly but there was no central record or intersection point before these social media methods existed. It is all still a bit “pioneer” out here I’m sure you’d agree. Most new contact were done the old fashioned way -by phone for entry to the necessary circle. The power available today to develop even more efficient and broad interaction far out across the “cloistered” public safety world will doubtless help current/future officers to work more effectively… if they choose to engage.

    I would make one comment on your search result on LinkedIn®. The reason your search turns up apparently anonymous “positions” may not always be what it appears. I think this occurs primarily because of LinkedIn®’s own policies. Obviously if they wrote their code differently they could expose the names associated with those positions too within the limits of the privacy setting selected by the individual for those outside their group of contacts or network, but as part of their model they do not. Since the extent of name privacy an individual on LinkedIn® can choose publicly is, I believe, to limit identification to First name and Last initial I don’t think this is usually an individual anonymity issue that you are encountering. Without searching by specific name LinkedIn®’s code intentionally limits your access. However it is not entirely useless. It is telling you that an individual who purports to hold that title is on LinkedIn® and some other clues to identity may be available. I know people don’t uniformly put much info on their profile so this suggestion may not always work but try clicking on the anonymous position and see if some of the work, school or group involvement is filled in and gives you further hints to identity. If a current workplace is listed check if it has a profile on LinkedIn®. If so you can see their employees who are on LinkedIn® and look at their profiles for further clues to the person you are trying to connect with. You may know someone there or have a shared group involvement that allows you to follow the thread to the person you are trying to connect with. Keep in mind for LinkedIn®, this limitation it is their subtle way of reinforcing their policy that we only contact those we know as a friend, colleague, school contact, or member of a common group. They mean to preserve the value of contacts much in the same way as it works in society. We don’t give all our information to everyone who asks on the street and I think they instinctively preserve that for us in their logic as they try to grow their value to us.

    I think because of the specialties I worked in Corrections and Parole I am pretty cautious about protecting my circle’s privacy and that of the innocents. I’m sure you are too. There are certainly people I don’t feel the need to cross swords with again in this life, and I don’t want those users getting interested in the lives of those I care about either. I have social media profiles obviously but I think it wise that some confirming facts are not public until you accept a contact to your contact list or the very least to your network or they have to leave some kind of a footprint when they come looking at your profile. So I don’t have a public face photo and specific history posted for instance. And I agree with you I’m not sure what place DOB, home contact info or such IDENT info has if it is public. Asking for trouble. I also limit access for others when it comes to my circle of contacts as I am not sure it is a good idea to make all professional relationships so public. It’s kind of like leaving your rolodex open and your office door wide open. It doesn’t protect me or my contacts perfectly but it is the bare minimum level of defense I require and it at least discourages those looking for the unlocked door. If someone has to sign in to find out something more it leaves some kind of tracks in the sand. Of course there are always ways around this but we have enough training to at least make it tough for the bad guys to take any high ground easily- not doing so can get the naive or innocent hurt. TJB

    • Art
      March 10th, 2011 at 23:02 | #2

      Thanks. TJB, I agree that LinkedIn could force folks to put in a name as opposed to a title. Searching by employer is an opition too..but then again not all employers have profiles. Then again those with a presence, such as NYC Department Probation, have employees listed…things like Supervising Probation Officer and probation officer. One thing I didn’t mention is LinkedIn like many SNS will allow you to search for contacts in your email and reach out to them. So if you have communicated with the person AND you are using the same email account you can find them. But if you have only talked to them on the telephone or in person that won’t work. Then again some of us try to expand our horizons by networking with folks in the field who we might not have had prior contact ..yeah I know LinkedIn discourages that as you correctly noted… the value of LinkedIN. But then again, I could connect with those same folks on Facebook…based upon their information.. However, right or wrong.. I try to keep Facebook separate from “professional” contacts… but in this day and age it is getting hard and harder to accomplish. Thanks for your comments and following.

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