The Etiquette and Policy of Photo Tagging in our Public Schools

Just before Labor Day our neighborhood held the annual picnic. My neighbors saw me walking toward the little park, where the event was being held, camera in hand. They all know that besides living down the street from them I also live online.  One neighbor said “Oh my goodness, I suppose this whole event is going to end up on Facebook”.  They all started to laugh a little but it was an interesting point because even though I know most of my neighbors by name I do not know if they want their pictures posted online or not.  I assured them that their faces would not be gracing the pages of my Facebook page unless I had talked with them in advance.  And if there was ever a picture of the neighborhood online that they objected to I would be happy to take it down (although we know you really can never fully remove an image from the Internet once it is out there).


This week many of us sent our kids back to school and we were most likely handed a Media Release to sign by our school district.  More and more schools are having to face a very similar situation.  The dilemma is what to do if they want to post a picture on their school website, or promote an event in the local newspaper (which inevitably will end up on the online version of that newspaper) or just take pictures of the their student body for some use they had not even thought of yet.

This is a huge challenge for public school districts, teachers, and coaches everywhere.  This was highlited in two different news articles this last week.

READ PARRY AFTAB’S response in the article: Internet Photos of Athletes Present New Challenges to Ads

In this article this discussion is presented from the perspective of the Athletic Director who is facing a challenge of bystanders taking pictures of his students without permission and posting them on various sites.

READ TEXAS SCHOOL is faced with unscheduled interview: Al Jazeera reporter not welcomed at Booker football game

At first glance, this article looks like a small town, ignorant, school administrator banning the news agency Al Jazeera from conducting interviews at his school. But you have to read through the entire article to get to the crux of the matter which really just boils down to advance notice by the media outlet and media releases on the part of the school.

As parents we can help support our schools in their attempts to keep our kids and their images and online reputations safe online and in the media. When your school hands you that media release to sign let them know you appreciate what they are doing and will do your part in supporting good online “photo tagging” etiquette.

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