GSU Problem? Students question privacy rights on social media

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Sarah Ryniker

Rumors that have surfaced over some pictures posted on social media sites like GSUProblems have students questioning their rights.

GSUProblems runs a combination of social media pages that allows Georgia Southern University students to anonymously send in pictures of other students and occurrences on campus and in the local area. Usually these pictures are of a risqué nature and highlight the drinking culture of GSU.

There is no official lawsuit as of yet that has been filed over pictures or postings on GSUProblems’ pages; however, some students have commented that there should be legal action taken.

“In most cases, if you’re in a public place, you have a right to take a photo. If you’re at a party, vomiting all down your shirt, someone can take a picture as long as there is no expectation of privacy,” Dr. Michael Wiggins, professor of legal studies, said.

“Most privacy laws are state-generated. Usually, there are certain expectations of privacy,” Scott Bryant, professor of the department of communication arts and photojournalist for the Statesboro Herald, said.

Taking photographs of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a constitutional right, including federal buildings, transportation facilities and police and other government officials carrying out their duties, according to the American Civil Liberties Union website.

“We respect other people’s rights, and expect you to do the same. You will not post content or take any action on Facebook that infringes or violates someone else’s rights or otherwise violates the law,” according to Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.

“The First Amendment has been widely understood as facilitating a free flow of information to the public about matters of social concern in order to make informed decisions about how we govern ourselves,” Bryant said.

Some sites are owned and maintained by a user, such as GSU’s Facebook page. The owner has a duty to regulate and prevent slanderous material posted on the sites that they manage, Francys Johnson, attorney at The Johnson Firm P.C., said.

“I would be completely embarrassed if I was on GSUProblems. It’s the number one thing a student fears,” Robyn Sanders, freshman pre-business management major, said.

“It’s funny, but it is a sad representation of our school,” Sanders said.

Other students believe that GSUProblems is an accurate depiction of the culture of GSU.

“I like GSUProblems. It’s important that we have a site that shows how the school really is instead of how the university wants it portrayed,” James Devlin, sophomore writing and linguistics major, said.

Alicia Jodrey, freshman pre-med biology major, said, “If you’re willing to go out in public and act like the students on GSUProblems do, you probably deserve it.”