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Social Media Guidelines & Best Practices for Students

These guidelines suggest best practices regarding the publication of commentary on social media by students of Stow Munroe Falls High School (SMFHS).

For the purposes of these guidelines, social media means any facility for online publication and commentary, including but not limited to: websites, blogs, wikis, social networking sites such as Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube.

In the digital age, interactions on social media can have profound effects on our students. The staff at SMFHS encourages students to utilize social media in a positive way. Students of SMFHS are free to publish or comment via social media in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct.

The information below can serve as a baseline for parents and students to have dialogue regarding social media.

Don't Tell Secrets
It’s perfectly acceptable to talk about your day and have dialogue with friends, but it's not okay to publish confidential information.

Confidential information includes things such as student information, grades, or any other personal, sensitive information that would identify individuals. We must protect and respect the privacy of our students, staff, parents, and school community.

Protect Your Own Privacy
Privacy settings on social media platforms often change and should be revisited frequently. Other privacy settings that might allow others to post information or see information that is personal should be set to limit access.

Be mindful of posting information you would not want the public to see.

Do not blog anonymously, using pseudonyms or false screen names. We believe in transparency and honesty.
Use your real name, be clear about who you are, and identify yourself properly. Nothing gains you notice in social media more than honesty - or dishonesty.

Do not say anything that is dishonest, untrue, or misleading. If you have a vested interest in something you are discussing, point it out.

Be smart about protecting yourself and your privacy. What you publish will be around for a long time, so consider the content carefully and also be cautious about disclosing personal details.

Respect Copyright Laws

It is critical that you show proper respect for the laws governing copyright and fair use or fair dealing of copyrighted material owned by others.
You should never quote more than short excerpts of someone else's work, and always attribute such work to the original author/source. It is good general practice to link to others' work rather than reproduce it.

Respect Others

Respect and protect your audience and partners, the public in general, and Stow Munroe Falls High School faculty, staff, students, and community. They reflect a diverse set of customs, values and points of view.

Don't be afraid to be yourself, but do so respectfully. This includes not only the obvious (no ethnic slurs, offensive comments, defamatory comments, personal insults, obscenity, etc.) but also proper consideration of privacy and of topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory.

Use your best judgment. Make it clear the views and opinions expressed are yours alone and do not represent others.

Be the First to Respond to Your Own Mistakes

If you make an error, be up front about your mistake and correct it quickly. If you choose to modify an earlier post, make it clear that you have done so. If someone accuses you of posting something improper (such as their copyrighted material or a defamatory comment about them), deal with it quickly.

Think About Consequences

It's all about judgment: using your blog or other social media outlets to trash or embarrass Stow- Munroe Falls High School, its partners or community, or your friends is inappropriate and aligned with Student Code of Conduct.

Many social media users include a prominent disclaimer saying who they work for, but that they're not speaking officially. This is good practice and is encouraged, but don't count on it to avoid trouble.

Don't Forget Your Day Job

Make sure that blogging or other social media outlets does not interfere with your function as a student, or other commitments to Stow-Munroe Falls High School and yourself.

Social Media Tips
The following tips are not mandatory, but will contribute to successful use of social media.

  • The best way to be interesting, stay out of trouble, and have fun is to write about what you know.
  • There is a good chance of being embarrassed by a real expert, or not contributing effectively if you write about topics of which you are not knowledgeable.
  • Use caution when you click links that you receive in messages from your friends on your social website. Treat links in messages on these sites as you would links in email messages.
  • Know what you've posted about yourself. A common way that hackers break into financial or other accounts is by clicking the "Forgot your password?" link on the account login page. To break into your account, they search for the answers to your security questions, such as your birthday, hometown, high school class, or mother's middle name. If the site allows, make up your own password questions, and don't draw them from material someone could find with a quick search.
  • Don't trust that a message is from who it says it's from. Hackers can break into accounts and send messages that look like they are from your friends, even though they are not. If you suspect a message is fraudulent, use an alternate method to contact your friend to find out. This includes invitations to join new social networks.
  • To avoid giving away email addresses of your friends, do not allow social networking services to scan your email address book. When you join a new social network, you might receive an offer to enter your email address and password to find out if your contacts are on the network. The site might use this information to send email messages to everyone in your contact list or everyone you have ever sent an email message to. Social networking sites do not explain they are going to do this.
  • Type the address of your social networking site directly into your browser or use your personal bookmarks. If you click a link to your site through email or another website, you might be entering your account name and password into a fake site where your personal information could be stolen.
  • Be selective about who you accept as a friend on a social network. Identity thieves create fake profiles in order to get information from you.
  • Choose your social network carefully. Evaluate the site you plan to use and make sure you understand the privacy policy. Find out if the site monitors content other people post. You will be providing personal information to this website, so use the same criteria you would to select a site where you enter your credit card.
  • Assume that everything you put on a social networking site is permanent. Even if you can delete your account, anyone on the Internet can easily print photos/text or save images/videos to a computer.
  • Be careful about installing extras on your site. Many social networking sites allow you to download third-party applications that let you do more with your personal page. Criminals sometimes use these applications to steal your personal information. To download and use third-party applications safely, take the same safety precautions that you take with any other program or file you download from the web.
  • Talk to your kids about social networking. Model safe behavior.

Quality Matters
Use a spell-checker. If you're not design-oriented, ask someone who is, whether your blog looks decent, and take their advice on how to improve it.

The speed of being able to publish your thoughts is both a great feature and a great downfall of social media. The time to edit or reflect must be self imposed. If in doubt over a post, or if something does not feel right, either let it sit and look at it again before publishing it, or ask someone else to look at it first.

Reporting Violations or Concerns
Report suspected violations and other concerns to a member of our faculty, staff, or administrative team.

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