School administration has been notified by students and parents of Instagram accounts, many utilizing the “JHS” acronym, that have been found to produce and host problematic content.
“There’s probably 50 plus different JHS Instagram accounts and most of them are very harmless or don’t actually involve people without their knowledge. However some do, and that’s the problem,” Principal Gary Comalander said. “It’s illegal to take pictures of others without their knowledge and post it and have people making comments. Making fun of somebody without their knowledge. That’s not okay. Now you’re getting into the realm of bullying.”
Since late November, administrators have begun a crackdown on students found to be participating in or running these accounts. As a result, many pages have been set to private.
“A friend of mine told me that I was posted to the couples page,” junior Chloe Jordan. “It was pretty upsetting, because they do it in an ironic tone that makes fun of kids more than they think it would. I just got really tired of all of the accounts that have been popping up cause they’ve been getting worse and worse. ‘Oh it’s in an ironic tone:’ they use that as a veil for like, literal cyberbullying.
Though not all inherently harmful, pages created with more comedic and positive tones have still been found to violate student-privacy.
“It went past the point of being funny. It’s just kind of teeenagers being dumb. It’s not unexpected but at the same time it’s something that could get them in trouble,” Jordan said. “At first the car one accidentally left license plates. It’s just stuff that could end up getting people reported.”
In more serious cases, such as those involving privacy and defamation concerns, students found participating may find themselves in trouble beyond campus, such as with the police or in court.
“It’s illegal to take pictures of people without their knowledge on campus. It’s a big offense to be taking pictures in a bathroom or dressing area, which a few have, [and] making comments, [can be] defamation of character,” Comalander said. “Those caught would involve dealing with not just the school code of conduct but also police.”
As the district moves forward in attempting to handle these such cases, students are encouraged to give their full cooperation with investigations even when situations may seem personal.
“There’s been a few put in on the tip line,” Comalander said. “The thing on the tip line is we have to have enough information to be able to act on it. Occasionally, we’ll get a tip line that is so vague, and it’s anonymous, and we have nowhere to go with it because we don’t have enough information.”