Social Worker’s Guide to Social Media

In the past year, I’ve been asked by many colleagues about where they can find materials related to the use of social media by social workers, especially for social work students. Many of the materials that I have seen developed by schools of social work don’t seem to address the professional use of social media, they mostly caution about private social media use. So we decided, at the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, to develop this infographic, with our partner, 12-Grain, who were the creative geniuses on the project. I like infographics as a way to share information, because they get shared much more than text-oriented posts (see Why Visual is the New Black).

Downloadable pdf copies of this infographic are available from the UB Social Work website (on a Creative Commons license) and by the end of April 2015, people will also be able to order paper copies there, as well. Finally, we hope to have some additional background materials (for more information about some of the guidelines) at that site in the future, as well.


A professional from another field (a notary) commented that she thought that this infographic applies to many professionals who use social media — that was good to hear. I agree that these are generally good principles that could apply to many people who use social media in their professional lives.

Thanks to Melanie Sage, faculty member at the University of North Dakota Department of Social Work, and Laurel Iverson Hitchcock, faculty member at University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of Social Work, for their feedback on an earlier version. You can check out their blogs (great resources!) here: Melanie Sage, Social Work Geek and Teaching Social Work (Laurel Iverson Hitchcock’s blog).

Why Choose a Master of Social Work (MSW) Degree?

Many arrows and question marks, and MSW?
I ‘m often asked why people should choose to pursue a master in social work (MSW) degree over the myriad of other human services graduate degrees that are available. My answer is the same one that influenced my degree choice many years ago: an MSW degree opens up more career paths than any other comparable degree. No other human services-oriented degree encompasses this breadth:

• Therapist, planner, community organizer, executive director, policy analyst, researcher, program developer
• Work across systems: individuals, families of all forms, groups, organizations, neighborhoods, service systems, communities, regions, states, nations Continue reading

How People Ignored Each Other Before Smartphones

Photo of family on front porch reading, gazing away, not interacting

How people ignored each other before smartphones

I came across this great image on Twitter (via @SBartner) yesterday, from the That is Priceless blog by Steve Melcher. Beyond giving me a chuckle, it reminds us that people have always had an ability to be together and not talk to one another (and who says that’s always a bad thing?).

And it reminded me of an image from a post I made one year ago that featured the negative impact of another technology on social interactions.

I would love to see any other images that continue this theme. If you have any, please share them in the comments.

As noted on Steve’s blog, the original painting is by Peder Severin Kroyer. Thanks to Laura Gibbs for her help identifying the painting, The Hirschsprung family, before I knew about the Steve Melcher’s original blog post.

There are many other funny technology-captioned paintings on the That is Priceless. Check them out!

2014 In Review: The Stats Helper Monkeys Come Through Again

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Not my most productive year blogging, especially the last half of the year which was incredibly hectic at work. Here are the highlights:

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 10,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

An E-book (free) on the Facebook Mood Experiments Controversy

Screenshot of E-Book Created on Readlists

E-Book Created with

In June 2014 the news of Facebook’s mood experiments with manipulating its users’ Facebook feeds broke with the publishing of the Atlantic article Everything We Know About Facebook’s Secret Mood Manipulation ExperimentsControversy ensued on all sides of the debate–even I jumped in with a blog post on the question of harm that could have been created.

Good educators always look for those real world examples that provide a compelling illustration of principles being learned in class. The Facebook Mood Experiment Controversy provides just such an opportunity for those teaching about research ethics, human subjects issues, and communications/marketing research; I could see using them a Social Work Research Methods Class. So with this in mind, I have created an e-reader using a cool tool called Readlists. Continue reading

See Big Data Grow on the Internet in Real Time

An animated preview of “The Internet in Real Time” website

Click the animation to open the full version (via PennyStocksLab).

We’ve all heard statistics about how much data is shared on the Internet in just a few minutes. Well here is a site that will make it come alive: The Internet in Real Time. This animated image gives you a preview of what the site does: but when you actually land on the web page, it starts counting at 0 for each of the types of data in question. And then it starts to count up.

Is this really what people mean by Big Data? No, not exactly. But I think it helps to make the concept of big data more understandable. If you sit with the website active for just a few minutes you very quickly understand how data can get to be so big.

Did Facebook’s Secret Mood Manipulation Experiment Create Harm?

Facebook Shows No Regard for Impact of Its Human Mood Experiments

Facebook Shows No Regard for Impact of Its Human Mood Experiments

Yesterday, The Atlantic broke the story about “Facebook’s Secret Mood Manipulation Experiment” This story isn’t about Facebook manipulating news feeds for advertising–that’s not news to any of us who have been paying attention (and, I might add, their ads are labeled). This story is about Facebook subjecting people to mood experiments two years ago, without full informed consent and without a post-experiment debriefing.

Continue reading