Should school principals have podcasts and other social media accounts?

Should school principals have podcasts and other social media accounts?

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I got one and you probably have one too.  Social media is everywhere and in this day and age, it is probably a necessary evil if you want to get the word out.  That being said, school principals should be extremely careful if they decide to pursue these new world technologies.   Risk lurks everywhere.

Free Speech, Defamation, and other Civil Rights Violations

While these are concerns for anyone with a public presence, the ramifications for Public Agency employees (school principals) are hundredfold.  Social Media accounts and podcasts immediately become part of the Public Record and a simple “comment removal” becomes a denial of free speech (so long as it did not violate the terms of use).  Yes, social media is part of the public record and a response on the social media account can become an “official” answer or directive.

Defamation is probably the most appealing reason to be extremely careful with your social media accounts.  Most people believe that telling lies constitutes defamation and that as long as you tell the truth you can’t be sued.  Some of that is true; however, there is a second component to telling the truth that may also get you in trouble.  That is the publication of a private fact.  Publicly announcing that someone is pregnant can quickly turn from a sweet innocent comment to a full-blown lawsuit.    You must be very very careful.

Podcasts

As a podcast publisher (we use Podcast Center LA to record ours), podcasts are awesome and while they have their pitfalls, they are much easier to control. They can serve as a one-way communication tool.  In addition, you have time and control over what you say.  You also have the luxury of editing out things that could get you in trouble.  You become the FCC of your own voice.  Said something you shouldn’t have, just cut it out before release.

All in all, social media and podcasts can be great tools, but be mindful of the pitfalls.  And if you don’t have enough time to do it properly, then leave it for the team that does.

 

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