Boise Highlights

Social Media Accounts Complicate Administration’s Role

Though+many+view+it+as+humorous%2C+the+Instagram+account+Overheard+Boise+High+has+caused+a+fair+amount+of+controversy.+
Though many view it as humorous, the Instagram account Overheard Boise High has caused a fair amount of controversy.

Though many view it as humorous, the Instagram account Overheard Boise High has caused a fair amount of controversy.

Photo Credit: Alex Swerdloff

Photo Credit: Alex Swerdloff

Though many view it as humorous, the Instagram account Overheard Boise High has caused a fair amount of controversy.

Alex Swerdloff, Social Media Editor

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For the most part, the rules governing school are pretty clear. Most Boise High students know that we’re expected to follow the dress code, rules of conduct, and other guidelines inscribed in the first few pages of our school-issued planners. But the rules guiding our lives online are murkier.

If we post references to drugs, or curse, on our social media accounts while at school, should that be treated the same as cursing or referencing drugs out loud in class? What about posting jokes that reference specific teachers, or fellow students? What should we do when some think these jokes are harmless, and others believe they’re unkind?

These are all questions Boise High’s administration and student body have had to grapple with when joke accounts centered on Boise High crop up on social media platforms. There’s Boise High Leadership, an Instagram account that makes satirical posts often aimed at Boise High’s student council. There’s Boise High Alternative Facts, also on Instagram, that pokes fun at Boise High’s student broadcasting station. (One example? “Don’t believe the lib MEDIA! KBHS Broadcasting are LYING!”).

The account that’s started the most recent conversations among staff and administration is Overheard Boise High. They post humorous quotes, mostly anonymous, that others have overheard in Boise High’s halls. The account is popular, with 973 followers; even some staff members who have been quoted appreciate its humor. “I don’t mind,” says Ms. Church, an AP Government teacher, on being quoted. “It hasn’t been interpreted in a way that would be negative, and I don’t think any of the teachers that have been quoted by the account that I’ve spoken to have felt anything but humor.”

Still, some members of staff and administration have reservations about the account–for the same reasons they worry about similar pages, like Boise High Leadership. When accounts that have Boise High’s name in their title reference drugs or make jabs at student organizations like KBHS or student council, things get complicated.

“I don’t have a problem with humorous social media where we poke fun at ourselves innocently in a way that’s appropriate, as long as it’s at ourselves,” says Mr. Thompson. “But when we start to make comments about other people that are potentially hurtful, and/or they’re taken out of context, that’s dangerous. I don’t think there’s a lot of malice behind some of those comments that are made on there, but it’s not always taken in a funny or joking way by the audience.”

These kinds of conversations aren’t unprecedented. Mr. Thompson and the administration have had to deal with inappropriate or potentially mean posts on student social media accounts before.

“A lot of times you’ll hear parents or students say, ‘Well, it’s none of your business. It’s a social media account that’s not owned by the Boise School District,’” says Thompson. “And that’s true until a couple different things happen. One, it becomes a disruption at school. Two, if they made the post at school. Everybody thinks the free wifi’s fantastic, but that’s all public domain. And so when people are making this posts at 10:45 on a Tuesday morning in September and they think it’s nobody else’s business, guess what? It kind of is. Because you were at school when you did it and you were using school-provided internet to make whatever post it was you made, and you said something about somebody at your school.”

Still, Thompson says he doesn’t plan to shut down Overheard Boise High or interfere in its future postings. “It’s a tricky balance for me–when do you let something go and when is it time to intervene?” he says. “If we always take the stance of ‘we’ve got to shut that down,’ then people don’t learn how to be responsible with their digital citizenship.”

Instead of the administration interfering, Thompson hopes that other students will regulate social media postings.

“I would hope that all of those people who are on social media and pay attention to those things say to their friends, and help each other understand when we’re pushing it too far or too hard or we’re hurting other people,” says Thompson. “Because it shouldn’t be any different than it is in person.”

 

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The Student News Site of Boise High School
Social Media Accounts Complicate Administration’s Role