Friend or faculty: Social networking sites, dual relationships, and context collapse in higher education

Cassidy Sugimoto, Carolyn Hank, Timothy Bowman, Jeffrey Pomerantz


Students and faculty have always interacted informally, on campus and off. Social networking sites (SNSs), like Facebook, introduce another space in which they interact, contributing to a blurring of boundaries between professional and personal personas. Communications on SNSs may be seen as simply an extension of on- and off-campus lives, and hence fall under the same policies governing institutional codes of conduct. The medium however, allowing for the capture and broadcast of events in academic and everyday lives, merits special considerations for contemporary faculty and administrators. The objective of this critical review is synthesize literature discussing dual relationships, context collapse, and digital persistence to contextualize and inform policy development regarding the use of SNSs in higher education. The review will contribute to discussions and decision-making on what should be done in response to these ubiquitous and novel channels for communication, connection and disclosure, and promote awareness of the implications for the connections fostered and the digital traces left behind in networked social spaces.


social media, dual relationships

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