Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dharun Rhavi Case Proves Some Universities Must Rethink Their Social Media Policies

Some colleges and universities may have social media policies that violate the U.S. Constitution. As I stated on September 26, 2011, the University of North Carolina's social media policy for its student-athletes is very troubling and every single day that UNC has this policy in place the university is increasing its legal liability.

Schools that require their students to turn over their social media user names, and/or account names, and/or passwords, and/or require students to Facebook Friend university employees and/or download monitoring software onto their personal electronic devices to monitor all of their students' online activity are creating a legal minefield they do not understand.

This week the tragic case of Rutgers' student Tyler Clementi is back in the news. For those not familiar with the matter, I first wrote about it on October 6, 2010 and then again on May 1, 2011. Prosecutors allege that Dharun Rhavi's online activity contributed to Tyler Clementi's suicide. In addition, the prosecution has charged Rhavi with tampering with online evidence.

If Rutgers was monitoring the social media activity of Clementi and/or Rhavi and did not act to stop the online activity that is alleged to have contributed to Clementi's death Rutgers may be sued for negligent social media monitoring. However, if Rutgers was only monitoring the social media activity of some of its students but not all of its students Rutgers may be sued for discrimination. Multiple lawyers and risk professionals have already discussed the tremendous liability schools may encounter social media monitoring their students. Therefore, schools must tread very carefully when creating a social media policy.

To learn more about this issue you may contact me at www.shearlaw.com.

Copyright 2012 by the Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC. All rights reserve