Iowa High School Takes Action Against Facebook Confession Pages

Newton High School in Iowa is taking what I believe is an unprecedented step in battling high school confession pages – they are threatening to sue Facebook.

District Superindent Steve McDermott was quoted yesterday by KCCI News 8 as saying:

“We had had students that were so shaken by comments made on the web that they didn’t want to go to school the next day,” said McDermott. “(The students) don’t get to worry about things like worrying about school, having fun with their friends or being involved in activities when they have other things hanging over the head, like these negative things on the web.

The district is taking legal action, McDermott said.

“You go back to the host of those sites and you make legal contact. You have legal representatives contact those sites and ask that those be pulled down,” said McDermott.

Newton-IA-high-schoolIf you have been following the troubling cases of the fallout over other Facebook Confession Pages, you may be aware that Facebook has been steadfast in its claim that it bears no legal responsibility to take down content unless it blatantly violates the terms and conditions of its Community Standards guidelines.

Whether legal action against Facebook is successful or not, McDermott has vowed stiff penalties against the administrators of the pages, presumably students.

Newton High School has three versions of Confesssion pages, according to the Newton Daily News. Individuals who are allegedly two of the pages’ administrators remain defiant:

“To the people saying they’ll track our IP addresses and plot our downfall: We’re all wearing tinfoil hats to prevent it,” wrote the “NHS Confessions” administrator. “Don’t you worry. Got this all under control.”

The administrator of the competing “NHS Confessions/Secret Admirers” page said, “We are safe. This is taking place outside of the school so they can’t do anything. Long live Red Pride.”

This case bears watching, as it may help define the boundaries of what student activity off campus can or should be policed, as well as how much responsibility Facebook and other networks must take.

 

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