ROCKVILLE, MD. (Oct. 3, 2022) – A new report issued today by the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) and the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) finds that the lack of dedicated verification and reporting processes for federally recognized K-12 education institutions on social media platforms is causing a strain on school districts around the country.
In a survey of school communication and school technology professionals, more than 50% of respondents indicated they have dealt with fake-official or mock accounts that impersonate their district or organization, while only a third indicated they were able to get their organization verified on various social media platforms.
“Social media is a powerful tool to engage families in local education, but without dedicated verification and reporting processes, school districts struggle to prevent the harm to students and staff caused by malicious and fraudulent accounts,” said NSPRA Executive Director Barbara M. Hunter, APR.
Other striking findings of the report Schools and Social Media: The Critical Need for Verification and Dedicated Reporting Processes include:
- Overall, a quarter of respondents indicated that within the last two years their educational organizations have applied to be verified on social media and have been rejected (25%).
- Respondents indicated that among their educational organizations:
- 59% have dealt with accounts that harass, intimidate or bully students.
- 45% have dealt with social media platforms not removing reported accounts/posts that harass, intimidate or bully their students.
Responses from survey participants demonstrate the strain that verification and reporting barriers cause to both institutions and students. Notable responses include:
- “We have spent countless hours reporting accounts that are causing real harm to students only for it to take days to get a response, if any at all, and many times that post remains up.”
- “We have accounts that we have requested verification for that have been rejected. By not being verified, this leaves some of our stakeholders to see fake-official accounts and not understand it is not affiliated with our school system [which can lead to]…chaos via misinformation and disinformation.”
- "We have reported accounts and individual photos and are always denied. These bullying accounts have a huge negative impact on the mental health of our students.”
The report also includes an assessment of awareness to these challenges by individual social media platforms.
With support from national education association partners, NSPRA and CoSN reached out over the summer to several social media platforms—including Meta (Facebook, Instagram), Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn—to both assess their awareness and to collaboratively identify current and potential solutions.
While many of the platforms had general consumer verification processes at that time, none had a process dedicated to school districts’ social media accounts. However, LinkedIn, Meta (Facebook, Instagram), TikTok, Twitter and YouTube indicated a willingness to explore solutions to this problem.
Similarly, none of the platforms had a dedicated process for school districts to report fraudulent social media accounts or to report posts and accounts that harass, intimidate, bully or otherwise negatively target students. However, YouTube has indicated interest in exploring a solution.
“NSPRA and CoSN are appreciative of the various social media platforms’ willingness to engage in these difficult but constructive conversations,” said CoSN Chief Executive Officer Keith Krueger, MPA, CAE. “However, we also remain committed to advocating for dedicated social media verification and reporting processes for federally recognized K-12 education institutions, on behalf of our members and our education partners.”
To learn more about the findings from the Schools and Social Media: The Critical Need for Verification and Dedicated Reporting Processes visit www.nspra.org/k12verify.
As the leader in school communication, NSPRA serves more than 2,500 members, who work primarily as communication directors in public school districts and education organizations throughout the United States and Canada. NSPRA provides high quality professional development programming through on-demand learning, an annual National Seminar, webinars, online forums and resources. For more information, visit NSPRA’s website at www.nspra.org.
CoSN is the premier professional association for school system technology leaders. CoSN provides thought leadership resources, community best practices and advocacy tools to help leaders succeed in the digital transformation. CoSN represents over 13 million students in school districts nationwide and continues to grow as a powerful and influential voice in K-12 education. www.cosn.org