I came across this article that discusses Sam Houston University’s Social Universe portal and its social media policy. The article focuses on the perhaps heavy-handed policy requiring that everyone who has a campus-related social media account to provide the university with editing privileges. It’s certainly an interesting question to ponder. If you have an account that features the university name or banner, then is it unreasonable for that university to exercise some control over what is posted? I don’t think it’s as simple a question of free speech. I can’t comment on U.S. laws, but we certainly have very strong rights to freedom of expression in Canada; I think the problem is that some people equate freedom of speech with a lack of responsibility. I may have the freedom to say what I want, but I must be prepared to accept the consequences of what I say. In the case of accounts related to a University, would the University be liable for comments or posts that violate the law, e.g., in the cases of inciting hatred or violence, or defamation of character? If I am posting something as an employee of the University (as is the case, for example, for our School-related blog, Twitter, and Facebook feeds), then is it reasonable for the University to exercise the right to monitor and moderate content?
I am intrigued by the concept of this portal; I think it’s a very good way of bringing together the various social media outlets that the University employs. It highlights also the increasing importance of having clearly-stated social media policies.