Posts on Facebook by Schools and Districts and the Potential Risks to Students’ Privacy

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Based on work by UTK student Macy Burchfield, my colleagues and I have written an article targeted toward administrators and educators working in schools and districts on the findings from our research and what we recommend can be done to reduce the risks to students’ privacy.

We posted a pre-print of this here:

Here’s the abstract:

For many if not posts schools and districts around the United States, the use of Facebook has emerged as a novel communication practice that serves several purposes, including sharing timely information, building a sense of community, and highlighting staff and students. An element of these posts that neither researchers nor, we think, most schools and districts have recognized is how they may pose a risk to the privacy of the individuals—often students who are minors—recognized and portrayed in them. Our recent social media showed that more between 15 and 20 million photos of students have been shared on the strictly publicly accessible Facebook pages of schools and districts—and that between 150,000 and more than one million photos are of students who are identifiable by name and school and/or district. In this article, we review some of the risks to students that might result from their identification through social media posts and offer practical steps that schools and districts can take to minimize the risks.

We’d welcome feedback on the content and suggestions (and on which publications, if any, may be interested in publishing this).