I do have a Facebook account and I do use it. However, I do not ask my students for a friends request as I feel that is not necessary as their instructor. I do not need to see what they do in their social life and they do not need to find out anything about myself. I have pictures of my family on Facebook as well and that’s my private life. I have my privacy settings very rigid so that only my friends can view my photos. I feel that it’s important to draw that line between students and instructors.
Creating ways for students to communicate with each other online is great. They’re on their phones constantly anyway. The first day of my new class (last Oct), my students all introduced themselves and one student started up a Facebook group for them to help exchange information, thoughts, ideas or just become friends. I thought it was a great way for them to communicate while not in class, a great support system. Once my students graduate, they usually start asking me for a friend request, as I make it very clear from the beginning that I prefer not to accept while they’re my students.
I totally understand how uncomfortable it would be mixing your personal Facebook with students. However, Facebook addressed this concern by releasing Facebook for Educators, https://www.facebook.com/FBforEducators. I had never heard of this until it was posted in the discussion forum.
A lot of people use Linkedin as sort of a “Professional” Facebook page. You can upload your job history and connect with other people in a similar way to Facebook. You can also look up other people and see their page and information about them. It’s a great way to connect with people in similar careers.