By Liesje Powers Lariat Staff Writer
What started out as a social media rumor in January at Midway High School ended in serious consequences.
The incident started with a tweet warning students to stay away from school. The message appeared to be an official post from the district, but was an edited version of message that had previously been sent out through the school’s Edmodo account. New text was placed on the message and the image was then screen-shot and posted on social media.
Edmodo is a private communication site for students, parents and staff at schools to interact.
“You could probably teach a second -grader [how to] do the same thing,” said Seth Hansen, executive director of technology for Midway, about the situation.
The message created a stir among students and parents at the school, and close to 200 compiled phone calls, emails and texts were sent to the district within a few hours of the school opening that day.
The incident was heightened because of a recently rumored shooting threat. A student had placed a countdown to an event on Twitter that was misconstrued as a threat.
While the use of technology led to the incidents, no hacking was done and no information was stolen.
“It wasn’t illegal access,” Traci Marlin, public information coordinator for Midway, said. “It was what they did with it that was illegal.”
Situations of this sort bring to light a very real and constant issue: social media ethics.
A large part of social media ethics is its direct connection to technological footprints. As college students, choices made on social media can cause the loss of a job or admission into future schools.
“Once its out there, you can’t take it back,” Hansen said.
In an effort to educate students and parents about digital citizenship, Midway has created programs for younger students and has been working to include general technology etiquette in everyday classrooms.
Although Baylor currently uses Canvas, there are still ways that students might implicate others through social media.
According to the Information Technology Services website, if a Baylor network were used to post a document that impersonated another’s identity, the offender would be revoked of their access to the network. These actions would also be in violation of the Student Honor Code if connected to an academic matter. Any other action would be left to the police force, depending on the harm done.
As seen by the students at Midway, a rumor quickly caused complications for their technological and educational footprints.
“[Incorrect information] is harmful to yourself and others,” Marlin said. “[The hoax] caused problems for students with anxiety… and the boy who people now believe [made a gun threat].”