Last Friday I watched a webcast from the University of Florida  sponsored by The Levin College of Law and University of Florida Strategic Communications Planning Committee called  Social Media: Promises, Pitfalls & Perils. In addition to watching the webcast, I participated on an impromptu backchannel. (here is a copy of the transcript from the backchannel.)

It was very interesting to listen to a panel of university legal experts weigh in on the legal ramifications of both personal and professional use of social media in higher education.  Overall, I felt there was too much emphasis on the risk and not enough said about the reward. While it was billed as a seminar on the safe and effective use of social media, one could have easily drawn the conclusion that safe and effective are mutually exclusive. I was frustrated with many things that were said.  Most of this frustration was not with the panel, but with current law. Too often common sense and the law are not on the same page.

Here are some additional thoughts I had while watching the webcast:

  • Understand your institution’s position on social media usage.  (I’m curious if anyone in higher ed has been dooced)
  • If you don’t have a social media policy to protect both employees and the institution, start working on one NOW.
  • Involve university counsel with social media policies.
  • Current federal law, state law, and university policies are painfully outdated. Social media will require a whole new paradigm.
  • When you combine how fast the web changes with how slow the legal system moves, this will get worse before it gets better.

I recommend that everyone watch the recording of the webcast.  Be forewarned that it is 2 hours long, but in the long run it will be time well spent. I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts.

This is an important topic and the conversation must continue.  I will have a big announcement in this regard coming shortly.  Stay tuned.