My most recent #sachat was a lively discussion about creating social media guidelines for your campus. With my eyes on creating and implementing guidelines for our student groups, I participated in the chat with rapt attention, favoriting resources and resonant statements as I went. But there was a topic that went unaddressed for the length of the discussion: how to handle acts of an inappropriate nature that fall outside of most social media guidelines. I alluded to something similar when writing about false LinkedIn endorsement requests, but I speak more commonly about things like inappropriate photos or handles on Twitter or Instagram. These things aren’t outright against the rules, but they are in many cases ill-advised. As an example:


This is a student who is considered to be a leader on our campus. Athlete, student employee, well known. And yet she doesn’t distinguish herself as a leader through her online handle. In fact, she distinguishes herself for an entirely different reason here.

Presently, there aren’t social media guidelines for my institution, so a handle such as the one above isn’t against any guidelines or policies. But even if there were, what would the guidelines have to be to address something like this as a member of our campus community? And how would the approach differ if it were a student you knew personally and interacted with often, versus one you didn’t know or didn’t have any connections to?

At some point in the chat, there was a discussion about managing over-regulation, and balancing it with authenticity in communication. And while Ben Newhouse ultimately made a great point,

Screen Shot 2013-02-21 at 7.05.59 PM

it’s still a question for me as to how to deal with something like this. Do interactions with staff saying “this is inappropriate” hurt the effectiveness of an otherwise conversational/social medium? Is this one of those situations where, as Sheri Lehman so eloquently put it, it’s time to “step out from behind the screen” and have a conversation?

Has anyone had experience approaching students about questionable online images? How would you handle something like this?

One thought on “Misguided, Sans Guidelines

  1. I am actually doing this next week with a student and I’m not doing it from behind a screen. Great post! Forgive the lateness in reading and replying!

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