Study Shows Millions of Student Privacy Breaches on Social Media
- By Kate Lucariello
A 15-year study of 18 million Facebook posts linked to U.S. schools
and school districts shows that millions of students have been
unintentionally put at risk by identifiable images, names, and
locations available to the public.
study, “Posts About Students on Facebook: A Data Ethics
Perspective,” was conducted by six researchers from various schools
and universities and published in Educational Researcher, the
journal of the American
Educational Research Association (AERA). The
researchers used CrowdTangle to access public posts on all U.S.
public schools and found that nearly 14 million pages contained
individual images. Of those, nearly 5 million were identifiable as
students, and about three-quarters of those gave first and last
names. “The posts we studied may represent the largest existing
collection of publicly accessible, identifiable images of minors,”
said study co-author Joshua M. Rosenberg, assistant professor of STEM
education at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
study notes that while government agencies in the U.S. and abroad may
access such data for legitimate purposes, it may also be obtained by
others for harmful or illegal purposes. Citing data
from the Australian government that tens of millions
of images from social media of minors have been downloaded and saved
on child exploitation sites, the study calls on governments, schools,
social media platforms and parents to take certain steps to prevent
or reduce risks. A
video of Rosenberg discussing the findings and implications of the
study can be found here.
access the study, visit the citation page.
Kate Lucariello is a former newspaper editor, EAST Lab high school teacher and college English teacher.