Social media and the law: think before you send

Onlineandthelaw

C.L.A.S.S. ‘Computing and the Law’ event flier

By Sade Cox

The Campus Life Activities for Student Success at Kean University, also known as C.L.A.S.S., sponsored a lecture on the laws of communicating online at the Little Theater on Feb. 26.

Since the early beginnings of Myspace, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram have become the new form of communication among students, who need to know their social media network rights and how to protect themselves legally.

Attorney C.L. Lindsay did just that, by lecturing students on how the laws operate, social network user rights and what potential liabilities await if proper measures aren’t taken.

Lindsay is the founder of the Coalition for Student & Academic Rights (CO-STAR), a national student rights organization that helps thousands of college students with their legal problems, free of charge. He is also the author of ‘College Student’s Guide to the Law: Get a Grade Changed, Keep Your Stuff Private, Throw a Police-Free Party, and More!’

“Think twice before you send a text, post a photo, tweet, or write a status update on the internet,” said Lindsay, who then warned Kean’s students to think “Would I do that offline?” before posting.

“If you wouldn’t do in the real world, you shouldn’t do it online either,” said Lindsay.

It’s important to know the dos and don’ts of managing your social media profile. Lindsay urged students to think about the receiver’s reaction before sending inappropriate pictures of themselves through social networks and text, considering the possibility that their photos could be seen by all of the online community, including college administrators.

Whether sending explicit photos via ‘sexting’, drunk and/or lewd images, posting threatening jokes, drug use, or violence, all could result in criminal charges in the court of law.

Lindsay mentioned several cases where students had been involved in revenge porn, sextortion, online stalking, sexual harassment and underage drinking. His organization receives thousands of cases from college students across the United States looking for legal advice and representation for the misuse of social media posts and images.

When it comes to schools handling disciplinary issues, Lindsay said most students believe that schools follow the same standard of proof as criminal or civil courts. Any student caught violating a college’s code of conduct standards are subjected to suspension or expulsion from school and are charged in front of the College Judicial Hearing Board. He urges all students to read their student handbook code of conduct to know what the standards are.

For Kean University’s student Code of Conduct, visit http://www.kean.edu/policies/Code-of-Conduct

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