Is It The End of Open Social Networks for Schools?
By Bill Miles | March 8, 2019
Mark Zuckerberg’s recent blog post regarding Facebook’s commitment to move away from an open social platform to smaller, private networks has opened up a lot of questions for schools.
One of the big ones…is whether schools should still be using open social platforms any longer, such as Facebook, Flickr, Instagram…among many others. In our previous blogs, we’ve mentioned time and time again: when dealing with personal information of students and staff, especially in the form of photos and videos, schools need to stop posting all this content openly on public social networks.
The reality is that this shift from open to private communities has been a long time coming. The state, federal and international legislative bodies have responded promptly to consumer demands in this area, passing various student data and consumer data privacy laws at a sweeping rate. Over the past 4 years, more than 40 states have passed more than 300 student data privacy laws, including California’s Student Online Personal Information Protection Act (SOPIPA) – perhaps the most well known, having served as a template for countless other states – as well as Louisiana’s comprehensive student data privacy law. Then, the EU passed the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018, setting a new bar for consumer data protection, with California quickly following suit with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) later that year.
Over the last few years, the idea of ‘private social networks’ has quickly gained momentum in the marketplace as well, providing organizations with more control over protecting their data while facilitating deeper engagement with their members. Vidigami, for example, addresses the student data privacy and security concerns specifically related to media sharing at schools, so that photos and videos can help foster stronger and more personal engagement among students, educators and families within school communities. Meanwhile, tools like Slack and Yammer are providing a more general private communications platform for businesses and organizations, while Nextdoor has tailored their service to support member engagement for neighborhood communities.
Yet, thousands of schools continue to share personal information of students on open social networks. Just try browsing through a fellow school’s photos on Flickr. You will find 10,000s of photos of students and staff available for public viewing and download. Too much is made public and while the sharing of any single photo may appear harmless, much is at stake. It is time for schools to find other solutions for sharing information and building community. There are much better alternatives available out there today, whether through learning management systems for the classroom or a password-protected environment for school photos and videos, all it takes is to dig a little deeper, and find a tool that you can rely on.
About Bill Miles:
Bill began his career as an attorney-at-law. Driven by technology and innovation, he has worked with several start-ups to lead innovation. Now, as CEO of Vidigami, Bill is leading the Vidigami Private Social Platform and Picaboo Yearbooks Editor to provide schools with a one-stop-shop solution that enables them to securely centralize, intelligently organize, privately share, and utilize media in a way that is responsible and rewarding.