My first memory of “social media guidelines” comes from my years in high school when my use of the internet and social media were restricted. My school monitored student’s usage of their platforms during school hours, from 7:50am – 2:33pm. We were provided a detailed list of the rules regarding the personal use of the Internet that included the penalties for usage in school (nothing worse than a detention). At the time, these rules seemed so constricting and confining to our social lives. As Blanchard phrases, a social media bill of right is, “…to use the social web as a means of personal communications and self-expression outside of work,” (Blanchard 85).
During high school, social media presence was still a new-found thing. My constant up-keep of social media was not so much for my personal use, but for maintaining social interactions. Because of those daily updates, I have many awful cringe-worthy old Facebook posts from my teen years (forgive me for this post). My first Instagram picture was a badly filtered key lime cheesecake with no caption and two “likes”. I clearly did not know how to navigate the nuances and unspoken rules of personal social media.
I knew social media rules in school were placed on students because of possible cheating and distractions, but guidelines for students and employees exist for the protection of others, as well as means of regulation and control within internal structures.
When I volunteered at Children’s Hospital, volunteers were forbidden from mentioning patients online or posting photos on our social media. Though this rule appears obvious, sometimes volunteers would share photos online to show support and encouragement for families. Their intent was positive but, as a volunteer, the privacy of patients and the reputation of Children’s Hospital is the primary concern as a representative for the hospital. The right to use social media for communication does not out-weigh the right for digital dignity for all users. Unfortunately, the internet and social media opened a new outlet for bullying.
Young people are exposed to social media at younger and younger ages every year and with less formal and informal guidelines of how to manage their personal social media and expressions. Blanchard remarks that, “…this type of problem [bullying] does not end with high school graduation. It is alive and well in the world of grown-ups as well,” (Blanchard 92). As an adult, I see cyber-bullying exist within political commentary, debates of parenthood and childcare, and weight loss. Social media sites like Instagram and Twitter offer guidelines for dealing with online abuse prohibited wishing their policies. Also, Blanchard suggests that proactively defining cyber-bullying and its consequences is key to reducing the number of victims (93).
While certain rights are afforded to those using social media (expression, privacy, etc.), social media guidelines and rules exist, not only as a form of management, but to ensure a quality of use that benefits and protects all who are affected.
After examining the different rights and consequences of social media usage within different environments, should social media guidelines change (within personal lives, businesses, websites, and schools)?
Blanchard, Olivier. Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization. Indianapolis, IN: Que, 2011. 83-94. Print.
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