Do students have a right to social media privacy? - 691 responses

Mar 08, 2015

Some call it a vital weapon in the fight against cyberbullying: giving schools the right to demand the passwords to social media accounts, giving them complete access to what kids are posting. Earlier this month, the NH House disagreed, passing HB 142, a bill that prohibits schools from asking for account information or forcing students to 'friend' administrators. On March 8, the Live Free or Die Alliance (LFDA) asked its 50,000-plus Facebook members to weight in, posing the question, "Should NH schools have the right to compel students to disclose their social media passwords?"

The answer was an overwhelming "no", with 98% of those directly answering the question expression opposition to schools demanding access to student accounts, and only 2% in favor. Only 10% of total respondents opted not to give a yes or no response, instead directing their comments to broader issues. In sum, the LFDA received 258 specific comments and 433 concurrences for a total of 691 citizen responses.  

Those who support a state ban on the practice argued that it constituted an invasion of privacy, and an infringement on what should be a parent's right and responsibility. "This is a parenting issue, not a school one," one commenter said. "I agree that cyberbullying is a phenomenally big problem, but forcing children to give up their constitutionally protected right to privacy is no way to combat it," argued another. "You don't teach children much about trust by not trusting them," a third respondent noted. 

The small minority in favor shared stories of bullied children, and pointed out that "school is not a private place." Others said they approved of the practice if parents were included in the process. "If the parents are notified and are present, and it's ok with the parents, then yes."

Those opting to address their comments to broader issues discussed the use of cell phones or social accounts by youths. "Kids are smart enough to have more than one account," one poster said. "Students shouldn't even be allowed to use social media in school," another stated. 

Click here to read the full Facebook discussion for this question. 

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