Need for Social Networking Rules?

By: Jamie Edmonds Email
By: Jamie Edmonds Email

On a college campus, it's not hard to find someone who has a Facebook account.

"I got a lot of family on Facebook, and I like to keep in contact with them," MSU Senior Allen McGee said.

"I definitely talk to family and friends, see what's going on in my high school," MSU Freshman Brianna Bundshuh said.

"I like to keep in touch with people," MSU Junior Jazlyn Collier said.

But days after the events involving three Rutger's University students came out, including news of one of the student's suicide, the question about online privacy has come up again.

"Our research has shown that many college students see their use of social networking sites as part of their daily experience," Nicole Ellison said.

Ellison is a telecommunications professor at MSU and studies social networking. She said in the past few years, students have gotten the message about revealing too much about themselves.

"Students are much more savvy about locking down their profile so potential employers can't find them," Ellison said.

But as was the case at Rutgers, there aren't any guidelines about how much information you can or should reveal about others.

"There's a gray area in terms of how we advise students, and regulate what they say about other people," she said.

We called several colleges and universities across Michigan to see if there were rules regarding social networking, and the overall answer was no. They said they can't regulate what students do on their own time.

Ellison said it may not be the university's place to do so, but they can educate students.

"We need to go one step further and teach them that what you say about a friend can really impact them," Ellison said, "even more so what you say about a person who isn't a friend of yours."

There aren't any crimes in Michigan regarding social networking,, specifically, but you can be prosecuted for trespassing or eavesdropping. The two students at Rutger's face - invasion of privacy - that would be a two year felony here in Michigan.


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