Students and staff beliefs on social media censorship create a guideline that may prove useful

censor-university-socialIn a problem that’s stemming from both the proliferation of social media use and campus violence, universities are considering what’s appropriate to censor on social media and what’s not, often leading to confusion and infringement of students rights. But a new guide may be able to help.

Free speech, which has always been a hot-button topic for higher education and continues to be, has never been more confusing than with the explosion of social media forums over the last five years. A confusing issue that John Rowe, academic registrar for Curtin University in Australia, thought worth an intensive study.

“All universities have been struggling to balance freedom of speech and the right to express an opinion, with reasonable expectations of responsible and respectful behavior by students, as well as the protection of staff and student well-being,” says Rowe in his study, “Student use of social media: When should the university intervene?” published by the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management.

In the study, Rowe surveyed students and staff at Curtin during 2011—with rigorous surveys (which you can read about more in the report)—which lead to the development of a categorization model and guidelines for handling matters of censorship on social media.

The guide aims to help colleges and universities navigate the murky waters of social media, free speech, slander, and potentially illegal remarks.

(Next page: What students and staff are saying)


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