The UW-River Falls Confessions Facebook page stated, on April 29, that it would no longer post confessions of UWRF students due to past content.
The University has a social media policy on campus that dictates all social mediums that involve campus material. This can include content trademarked by the University, including the UWRF logo, Freddy the Falcon and the University’s name.
Amy Luethmers, a marketing specialist for UWRF’s Communications office. Luethmers wrote and implements the social media policy on campus.
“All social media must adhere to the social media policy, and people who do not choose to do so can face serious consequences,” Luethmers said.
Although the content of the page is not why the Confessions page was shut down, the Confessions page had another serious issue: it degraded the University’s name. Luethmers said that the content on social media site matters, but by the University’s standards, it’s the social media policy rules that count.
The social media policy states on page two that “when using an officially recognized social media channel, assume at all times that you are representing UWRF.” This is one of the many rules that students are sometimes unaware of.
Luethmers said that students have the ability to post what they want on Facebook and Twitter because at the end of the day, their opinions matter.
“We live in a country that has free speech, and if people are saying things about us that we don’t want or we don’t prefer them saying, that’s their right.”
Even though students have a right to say words that can be harmful, it doesn’t always mean they should. Jessica Schwinn is a student on campus who regularly visited the Confessions page on Facebook. Schwinn said that students clearly didn’t know about the social media policy.
“It wasn’t really a confessions page because it wasn’t about confessions. It was stupid because it was all about hurtful stuff.”
The social media policy states that users should “exercise discretion, thoughtfulness and respect for your colleagues, associates and the University’s supporters/community (social media fans).” Faculty and staff complained to the Communications office, but because students have free speech, Luethmers was unable to shut down the confessions page.
“Students may not recognize that there is a social media policy on campus, and that’s why we sometimes have problems,” Luethmers said. “There are so many rules that we constantly have to update our policy.”
The social media policy is always evolving and changing, and the Communications department is constantly updating, informing and modernizing the policy. Luethmers suggested that students who are creating Facebook pages and Twitter accounts should be cautious about the material posted.
Luethmers said that “students think that social media stuff goes away, but it never really goes away. Nothing is protected; it’s all on there for employers to look at. There are hiring decisions made based on what is on Facebook or Twitter.”
The social media policy is being revised and will not be going anywhere soon. The Communications department hopes to keep the policy up-to-date and encourages students to become familiar of the policy and regulations the University has for its students.