No pictures please

Jones gimmick Instagram accounts cause a stir among students

While the new wave of Jones College Prep schtick Instagram accounts have inspired a fresh sense of enthusiasm within the student body, a lot of them are unethical. 

Many students now fear being posted to these accounts without their permission. Something initially meant to provide unity amongst students is now dividing some and something needs to change.

Privacy concerns of students should be taken seriously, as it encompasses students attending a public school that entitles them to video privacy and will prevent media being shared that could potentially be harmful. The privacy of students is protected through public school rules so many of these concerns are valid. 

The origin of the photos posted by the accounts has not been confirmed; it is not clear if the submissions are from followers or the person in the photo. This lack of clarity can pose a multitude of possible problems for students.

 It becomes difficult to determine what is constituted as something deemed worthy of admin intervention and how school administration could go about handling the accounts seeing as social media is an entity that the justice system has ruled to be out of the school’s control. In June of this year, Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. ruled that punishing students for content posted on social media outside of school violated the first amendment, meaning schools are not allowed to penalize students for their social media presence unless it directly involves school activities. So it can be argued that there is no privacy in a public school since students can’t technically be penalized for posting photos of other students. 

However, students should have a comfortable environment to complete their education. Students do not voluntarily subject themselves to have intrusions on their privacy and therefore hold the right not to be publicly recorded (Electronic Privacy Information Center). So although the intentions of the owners of these accounts may be entirely innocent, there is more to consider than just humor. 

It might not be the content of these accounts specifically as much as it is the acquiring of the content itself that is problematic. For example, getting posted on accounts such as  “jcp.postures” or “jcpforeheads_” can be an embarrassing experience for students. Taking pictures without the consent of a person crosses a privacy boundary that makes some students at Jones uncomfortable. Posture can be entirely out of one’s control because of medical reasons, so getting a photo of something you can’t control as a “joke” is incredibly hurtful, and getting a post making fun of your forehead can severely hurt someone’s self esteem.

Sharing photos between accounts is also an issue. It is easy for accounts entirely run by students to share photos and pictures of people without the subject knowing, this is especially troubling if the person in the photo doesn’t have Instagram.

A lot of students walk around in fear of getting posted on any number of embarrassing instagram accounts. What was initially meant to bring unity to the school has divided the student body into being untrusting of their peers. Upon finding out about unwanted social media attention, some students may feel upset. The result of this is a sort of cancel culture in which students are judged and criticized publicly on social media for things oftentimes out of their control. For example, @jcp_antimaskers’s popularity has completely sprung from the controversy surrounding the students on the page. For this reason high schoolers deserve the right to take down their picture.

Although the majority of these accounts are trying to be as ethical as possible, the accounts have an unpleasant effect on some of the students. If the student(s) in the photo do not wish to be on social media, it should be able to be easily taken down but the reality is that some of these accounts aren’t respecting personal privacy. There’s been talk from some students that even after asking for a post to be taken down it stayed up without word from the account runners. ”My photo was submitted to one of these accounts and I asked them to not post it and they completely ignored my request. I was devastated,” said an anonymous student. 3.6 billion people joined social media in 2020, so it is no surprise that a massive amount of students are interacting with these accounts. With that many students participating in these accounts, there has to be a system in place that allows students to comfortably enjoy the content posted by the accounts.

To prevent students from feeling uncomfortable or targeted, the owners of these accounts should ask permission from the student to post their picture online. Students, those running the account and interacting, should be mindful of what they post and what they allow to be in their feed. The accounts can still be a really fun part of a Jones students’ day; just think before you post.