Facebook; on the value of personal information online

One of the things I love about my job as the E-Media Specialist for the Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland council is I get to help discover different, effective ways for staff, girls, volunteers, and parents to connect with each other and stay up-to-date with important and/or fun information. Facebook has been, and probably will continue for some time, to be an extremely popular and easy way to make and maintain those connections.

Unfortunately, even the good can have an unfortunate side.

If you use Facebook (or if you’re considering doing so), you should take a look at these two articles:

“Facebook’s High Pressure Tactics: Opt-in or Else” : http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/facebooks_high_pressure_tactics_opt-in_or_else.php

“How to Delete Facebook Applications (and Why You Should)” : http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/how_to_delete_facebook_applications_and_why_you_should.php

Facebook has slowly been loosening their standards on how user information gets shared. A year ago they made the default new profile info from private to public, they then made it so that not only is your profile information open to any of the Facebook applications (like the quizzes and games) but also the information of your friends, and then recently they turned on by default an “Instant Personalization” feature which shares your profile to external Web sites. (See: “How to Opt Out of Facebook’s Instant Personalization”  http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2010/04/how-opt-out-facebook-s-instant-personalization)

Now, as the first two articles describe, Facebook has made it so that all your profile info is connected to other FB pages and groups or else you can’t have references to those subjects in your profile, and they’ve expanded the amount of information third-party applications can have on you and how long they can have it.

What’s the bottom line in this cautionary tale of creeping personal information leakage? Should we abandon the social media ship? Well, the pros and cons have to be weighed on an individual basis. But what it comes down to, what it always has and always will come down to, is educate yourself on how your personal information is being used and consider carefully what information you put out on the ‘net. As one of the articles states: “In fact, it may be best if you just assume that everything on Facebook will be public from now on and act accordingly.” That’s good advice not just for Facebook, but any and all Internet use.

And we need to be good models for the youth. We need to show them, in practice as much as telling them in cautionary instruction, that personal information is a commodity: there are people who want it; will buy, sell and trade it; and exploit it if it profits them. Personal information is to be given out sparingly, carefully, and in an informed manner.

Unfortunately, our youth are getting very mixed messages about the value of their personal information. On the one hand we tell them (rightfully so) to be careful and miserly about their information, but on the other hand we’re living in an increasingly surveilled culture where we, and our kids, are watched by cameras, monitored online, scanned by detection devices, and asked left-and-right to give over more of our information at retail and even grocery stores.

One component of the solution must be that we model for our kids the proper way to value our personal information online. Be careful and judicious with your own information. Teach through your own online interactions that what you put online is about yourself is valuable enough to be protected, and what you do put online should never be presumed to be private.

I love the Internet, I love social media and all the positive potential it has. As the council’s E-Media Specialist, I love being able to use the skills and knowledge I have and continue to develop helping our girls and adults alike to use social media. Social media is a tool. It can be used for good, as we use it every day to promote and enhance the Girl Scout experience — and it can be used for ill. The proper response isn’t fear and avoidance, in my opinion, any more than one should fear and avoid a hammer, knowing it could build a house or smash a thumb. The proper response should be education and information.

Embracing social media isn’t for everyone, and you may never ever use Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or any of their cousins or descendants; but online social media is becoming increasingly an integrated part of modern life. It may not directly affect you, but I would bet you directly affect someone who does embrace it! Help pass the proper education along.

Thank you for reading.

Liam Watts

E-Media Specialist

Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland

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GIRL SCOUTS CELEBRATE GIRL SCOUT WEEK

Celebrating Girl Scout WeekGirl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland joins Girl Scouts around the country to make the world a better place as we celebrate Girl Scout Week and the 98th anniversary of Girl Scouts from March 7-13. More than 3 million girls in the United States and more than 10,000 in our area are discovering their path to leadership through Girl Scouts.

Self-discovery and community service were core values that Girls Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low sought to instill in girls from the earliest days. When the organization was founded in 1912, many girls’ paths in life were limited and Low’s vision was to establish an organization where any American girl could expand her personal horizon by having fun while exploring new interests and contributing to society. Low was determined to help expand opportunities and learning for the average American girl, and founded Girl Scouts on March 12, 1912.

“Girl Scout Week is an opportunity to celebrate the long and proud history of Girl Scouting and to engage our girls in making our communities and the world a better place. It is also an opportunity to thank the countless committed volunteers in our community who give so much to Girl Scouting all year long. With your support, we are able to continue to offer girls of the Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland council the encouragement, coaching and resources they need to develop their leadership skills.”

Girl Scout Week projects are part of a broader initiative by Girl Scouting to help girls lead by example in their communities and in the larger world around them. With leadership development at the organization’s core, today’s Girl Scouts take part in a vast array of activities from extreme sports to international travel and science and technology projects, as well as gain knowledge about such things as business and economics.

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GSMH Supporting relief for Haiti

Tragedy in Haiti
The Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland joins the world in expressing our condolences to the millions of Haitians affected by the recent earthquake. It is at times like these that Girl Scouts throughout the world pitch in to help in many different ways. We know, however, that after natural disasters like these, sending funds is often the best way to help.

The Girl Scout Cookie program is one such way. Girls can choose to contribute a portion of their troop proceeds to the Haiti relief efforts. This is an opportunity to educate girls about how their generosity and acts of kindness can make the world a better place, especially in times of such extreme tragedy.

Additionally, the Executive Committee unanimously adopted, and the National Board ratified a special rule of order allowing girl members to support emergency relief for the January 12 earthquake disaster. This temporary suspension makes it possible for Girl Scouts to raise much needed funds for relief efforts in Haiti and remains in effect until September 8, 2010.  Some suggestions for money-earning projects include bake sales, car washes, collecting and recycling cans, babysitting night, etc.  Please take note that the money our girls raise can be contributed only to those agencies on the list below.
List of Agencies

  • Pan American Development Foundation
    The foundation is encouraging people to donate through its Web site at www.PanAmericanRelief.org.
  • Mercy Corps
    Donate online, call 1-888-256-1900 or send checks to:
    Mercy Corps Haiti Earthquake Fund
    Dept NR
    PO Box 2669
    Portland, OR 97208
  • Doctors Without Borders
    Doctors Without Borders has set up clinics to treat people in Haiti. Donate to Doctors Without Borders.
  • The UN World Food Programme
    The UN World Food Programme is gathering all available resources to deliver food to the recently homeless and impoverished in Haiti. Donations can be made through https://www.wfp.org/donate/haiti
  • CARE
    CARE is deploying emergency team members to Port-au-Prince to assist in recovery efforts. It’s focusing its efforts on rescuing children who may still be trapped in schools that collapsed. Donate to CARE
  • The International Rescue Committee
    The International Rescue Committee is deploying an emergency response team to Haiti. Donate to the IRC Haiti Crisis Fund.
  • United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF)
    This fund is used for emergencies like the earthquake in Haiti. Donate online.
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Ten Girl Scouts Honored as 2009 National Young Women of Distinction

Girl Scouts of the USA is proud to announce its 2009 National Young Women of Distinction honorees. Each of the ten young women has earned her Girl Scout Gold Award—the highest award in Girl Scouting—and has been selected as a National Young Woman of Distinction for demonstrating extraordinary leadership in the completion of her community action project. The Girl Scout Gold Award is earned by fewer than six percent of all Girl Scouts.

Each honoree spent one to two years on a community action project that has had far-reaching effects in her community and beyond. Among the honorees this year are authors, advocates, and environmentalists with projects based in a wide range of locations—from India, Africa, and China to neighborhoods in Louisiana and California.

The young women will be honored at a special awards ceremony on February 27 during the Girl Scout National Corporate Leadership Meeting in St. Louis.

“Earning the Young Women of Distinction designation is truly a remarkable achievement, and these young women exemplify leadership in all its forms,” said Kathy Cloninger, Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of the USA. “They saw a need in their communities and around the world and took action. Their extraordinary dedication, perseverance, and leadership, is making the world a better place.”

To learn more about these girls and their great accomplishments, read the official Girl Scouts of the USA release.

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Girl Scout Cookie Program Kicks Off: Girls Learn Skills and Give Back

From now through mid-March, community members are invited to indulge their sweet tooth – and to support local Girl Scouts as they participate in the United States’ leading entrepreneurial program for girls. During the past several months, girls have been learning about goal-setting, budgeting, and customer service. They have set individual goals, and will earn recognition items such as Girl Scout Cookie Credit, which they can use to help pay for Girl Scout summer camp, program events, uniform pieces, and more. Each Girl Scout troop also sets goals, and earns proceeds for learning activities, field trips, and service projects.

Since its inception Continue reading

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GSRI Study Draws Coverage Throughout the Country

The Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI) released its latest study, Good Intentions:The Beliefs and Values of Teens and Tweens Today, on December 2 and the findings have appeared in more than 200 publications—from newspapers and magazines to Web sites and blogs. Some of the placements include Forbes.com and Yahoo News, as well as newspapers such as the Asbury (N.J.) Park Press (www.app.com) and WREX-TV (wrex.com) in Rockford, Illinois. Anna Maria Chávez, Chief Executive Office of the Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas, used her blog on the San Antonio Express-News Web site to discuss the study. You can find the blog post here (voices.mysanantonio.com.)

Some of the good news the GSRI study determined about teen behavior?

  • Youth today intend to make responsible choices and refrain from risky behaviors.
  • Youth today value diversity and acceptance.
  • Young people today appear to have a stronger sense of civic engagement.

Help these girls of proven courage, confidence, and character take action and encourage them to become positive leaders in their communities, families, future careers, and in their lives — support the Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland Council whether it’s with your time, effort, or donations. You can help ensure these beliefs and values are life-long!

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Videos: More reasons to volunteer

More choices, more reasons to volunteer!

More choices, more reasons to volunteer!

Come to our Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland Facebook page! There are new things all the time…

including two new videos that show how you too can volunteer!

Volunteering with the Girl Scouts doesn’t have to be a full-time commitment. There are countless ways you can share your experience and expertise with girls in your area.

Come check out how you can make a difference!

For more information about volunteering, visit our official Council Web site: www.girlscoutsmoheartland.org , or call 1-877-312-4764.

More choices, more reasons to volunteer!

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Call for Delegates, 2010 Young Women’s World Forum

GSUSA is seeking applications from young women interested in representing GSUSA at the 2010 Young Women’s World Forum. The Forum, organized by Girlguiding UK in collaboration with WAGGGS, is the first of three events for girls and young women taking place throughout the centenary celebrations. The Young Women’s World Forum takes place between October 19 – 24, 2010 in London, England and is open to two young women ages 18-25 (at the time of the event) from each Membership Organization. An application can be found here:

http://www.girlscoutsmoheartland.org/docs/GSUSA_Nomination_Form_YWWF_2010_10_09.doc

Email” “globalgirlscouting [a t] girlscouts [d o t] org” if you have any questions.

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