Tackling Social Media Monitoring’s Liability, Clery Compliance Questions

The practice of gathering social media data could bring added risks that schools don’t consider right away.

Tackling Social Media Monitoring’s Liability, Clery Compliance Questions

As more and more schools and universities begin to monitor the social media activity of their students, policies and regulations must emerge to keep schools in compliance with the Clery Act and out of legal trouble.

RELATED: Countering Potential Threats with Social Media Monitoring

Some campus protection professionals, especially those working for colleges and universities, are concerned that social media monitoring could expose their institutions or districts to additional liability and possible Clery Act violations. The Clery Act requires colleges receiving federal funding to keep crime statistics of any incidents reported to the school’s public safety department or crimes “of which they are made aware.” The act also requires schools to issue timely warnings to all students about crimes that represent a threat to the campus.

“I do think, under the most extreme circumstances, any school that has invested a significant amount of resources into that part of its security platform does take on an additional level of liability,” Director of Campus Safety for the Claremont Colleges Stan Skipworth says. “And I think this is where the stepping off point exists between K-12 and campuses of higher education, because many K-12 schools have campuses designed to be locked down or evacuated and have well-defined boundaries. College campuses are much more open and their climates are more free-flowing.”

RELATED: Measuring Campus Health with Social Media

There is concern that an increase in the number of potential leads on incidents or other problematic behavior could overwhelm campus public safety departments, most of which don’t have enough staff or resources to respond.

“When something does come up, we have a communications challenge,” Skipworth adds. “How do we let families know? How do we let students know? How do we let the local community
know? Because once we find something out, we have a responsibility to manage the scenario, so we need the necessary resources.”

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About the Author


Zach Winn is a journalist living in the Boston area. He was previously a reporter for Wicked Local and graduated from Keene State College in 2014, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism and minoring in political science.

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