Are professors naive users of social media?

The Chronicle of Higher Education published a commentary some time ago that argued that professors are “naive users of social media” and must exercise caution. It’s difficult to argue with the recommendation to exercise caution, when one looks at the list of scholars who found themselves in trouble in the last year: Salaita, Goldrick-Rab, Grundy, and so on.

But, the claim that professors are naive users of social media is unsubstantiated and reveals a limited understanding of the literature on how professors actually use social media and what they think about them. My colleagues and I have been conducting research on networked scholarship and scholars’ use of social media since 2009, and since that time, I can’t recall interviewing a faculty member or reading a study that revealed naiveté regarding social media and the challenges/tensions they introduce. If anything, most academics have an astute understanding of how social media intersect with their professional (and personal) lives and make informed (and tactical) decisions regarding their use of these technologies.

Granted, many find themselves in conundrums as a result of being in collapsed contexts and being exposed to unanticipated audiences, but to argue naiveté is misinformed.


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1 Comment

  1. Yes, the conclusions of your research seem reasonable to me. I believe the days of naïveté are gone; on the other hand, ignorance and intolerance are in place. therefore, we all must make really informed and tactical decisions regarding those intersections between our professional and personal lives to avoid (or, at least, minimize) exposition to unanticipated audiences. I myself had to create detached Facebook accounts for personal and professional audiences.

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