MADISON, Wis. (6/16/09)--Using Facebook to build social networks can offer consumers many advantages--such as the chance to re-connect or build new relationships with others, and to promote themselves or other causes. However, using Facebook can also have disadvantages--including concerns about security and creating a presence on the Web that could damage one’s reputation. When it comes to Facebook use at work, some credit unions have encouraged their employees to build social networks through the site. Parkview Community FCU, McKeesport, Pa., sees Facebook as a way to connect with the younger generation. “We have a lot of younger members that come in to open accounts,” Lechelle Brown, Parkview business development specialist, told News Now. “[When you talk about Facebook with them] you want to know what you’re talking about.” Parkview has encouraged its employees to create Facebook profiles--and all but one of its employees use the site, Brown said. Pioneer CU, Green Bay, Wis., has several employees who use Facebook to communicate with each other and potential members. “It’s good to get synergy and conversation going,” said Michelle Kozak, Pioneer CU marketing specialist. “It’s indirect marketing.” However, others see possible pitfalls in having staff on social networks because of privacy. BayPort CU, Newport News, Va., decided to block access to Facebook at the credit union, said Marilyn Lamb, BayPort CU e-commerce manager. About 50 employees use Facebook, but they do so on their own time or through Blackberries, she added. BayPort recently conducted a security assessment in which employees were briefed on some concerns regarding Facebook. Employees were advised to be aware of what information others can see on their profiles, such as photos, Lamb said. Facebook users can identify others in photos through "tagging," which adds the photos to a person's profile for others to view. They also can write messages on their Facebook friends' walls. Lamb encouraged Facebook users to be aware of who is tagging them in photos or writing on their walls in case the information or photo is questionable and could harm one's reputation. “Use common sense with the information you put out there,” she said. “Be aware of what you’re advertising--it can be used against you.” She also encouraged Facebook users to understand the site and monitor their profiles to make sure they are aware of the information others can see about them. Don’t just create a page and then fail to maintain it, she said. Though BayPort blocks Facebook, it offers members an online banking application through Facebook and MShift, a mobile banking solutions provider. MShift users can check their credit union balances by logging into their Facebook profiles. The application is safe and uses multi-layered authentication, Lamb said. Dan Veasey, director of marketing at Piedmont CU, Danville, Va., said credit unions concerned about Facebook should monitor it, but not necessarily block it. “[Credit unions] can monitor it and see how much activity there is,” Veasey said. “But it’s good for credit union employees to be a part of the community.” Piedmont also recently expanded its social networking to include Twitter. The site has helped Veasey connect with members in the community online and in person, he said.