Social Media and You From a Legal Perspective:Pitfalls and Opportunities GERALD PETRUCCELLI, ESQUIRE JIM HADDOW, ESQUIRE www.pmhlegal.com
What are social media? • Facebook • Twitter • Instagram • Snapchat • Reddit • Pheed • Tumblr • Messaging Apps (Kik, WhatsApp, YikYak)
Pitfalls • Inappropriate contact with students • Defamation • Disciplinary issues • Bullying / Hazing
“Who would have thought that a means of communication limited to 140 characters would ever create misunderstanding?” - Stephen Colbert
Inappropriate Online Contact – Potential Consequences Civil Liability: Invasion of privacy Intentional or Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress Criminal Liability: Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Class D Crime) Sexual Exploitation of Minors (Class A or B Crime) Possession of Sexually Explicit Material (Class C or D Crime) Dissemination of Sexually Explicit Material (Class B or C Crime) Solicitation of a Child to Commit a Prohibited Act (Class C or D Crime) Stalking (Class C or D Crime) Indecent Conduct (Class E Crime) Professional Discipline
Defamatory Statements (a) a false, negative statement about another person;(b) made to a third-party without the permission of the person being discussed;(c) fault amounting to at least to negligence on the part of the person making the statement; and(d) harm to the person about whom the statement is made.
Golden Rule: Never do, say or show anything via social media that you wouldn’t do, say or show in the public areas of your school when they are filled with students and colleagues.
Monitoring and Discipline Students have free-speech rights, both in school and off-campus.Public schools can punish that free speech if it poses a substantial threat of a disruption to the school.
Steubenville, OH 2012 – Sexual Assault Westbrook, ME 2013 – Underage Drinking Pembroke, NH 2014 – Poor Sportsmanship “Shout out to Portsmouth, you may have won in the regular season. ... But we won the ship you suck #(expletive)yourself.”
Cyber Bullying – 20-A M.R.S. §6554 "Bullying" is any expression, physical act or gesture directed at a student that: (1) Has, or a reasonable person would expect it to have, the effect of: (a) Physically harming a student or damaging a student's property; or (b) Placing a student in reasonable fear of physical harm or damage to the student's property; (2) Interferes with the rights of a student by: (a) Creating an intimidating or hostile educational environment for the student; or (b) Interfering with the student's academic performance or ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities or privileges provided by a school; or (3) Is based on a student's actual or perceived characteristics identified in Title 5, section 4602 or 4684-A, or is based on a student's association with a person with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics or any other distinguishing characteristics and that has the effect described in subparagraph (1) or (2).
"Cyberbullying" means bullying through the use of technology or any electronic communication, including, but not limited to, a transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data or intelligence of any nature transmitted by the use of any electronic device, including, but not limited to, a computer, telephone, cellular telephone, text messaging device and personal digital assistant.
Maine’s cyberbullying statute prohibits bullying that: A. Takes place at school or on school grounds, at any school-sponsored or school-related activity or event or while students are being transported to or from school or school-sponsored activities or events; or B. Takes place elsewhere or through the use of technology, but only if the bullying also infringes on the rights of the student at school.
Coaches must “report incidents of bullying to the school principal or other school personnel designated by the superintendent.”
Opportunities: • Ease of communication with students, families • Team building, support • Publicity for games, events
Communication With Students and Parents(Twitter, Facebook, Text, Messaging Apps) • Provide game and practice time reminders. • Inform about cancellations/postponements.
Communication With Community(Twitter, Facebook) • Score updates. • News feeds from local papers. • Honors and awards about individual athletes or teams. • Game photos. • Fundraising.
Team Building Team Facebook Group? Team Twitter Feed? Flash Mobs?
A Final Thought: “You are what you share.” - C. W. Leadbeater