Following An Instagram Account

Reply Sun 6 Sep, 2020 09:54 am
Working at a college, this question came up.

A staff member that works at a college and soon going to move on to pastures new, has the following question that was asked and wanted to know the correct answer.

What is the correct and legal thing to do when it comes to social media as a staff member and a student that has now left the same college.

Say you worked at a college as a teacher and a student showed you their Instagram page as they wanted to show you their photographic skills and the style of photos they used during a lesson. Having seeing the page, you were amazed at what they took and were impressed with the photos.

The college does have social media rules and regulations when it comes to social media and safeguarding i.e don't give out personal information, don't add any students, dont post anything online that links you to where you work etc. This has been adhered to and protocol has been followed by the book.

What is the correct thing to do in the following scenario?

This teacher and student have both left the college. When collecting GCSE results, saying thanks and goodbye, the student asked the teacher, if they could follow their Instagram account and stay in contact and show their photographic skills online via Instagram knowing they have shown them already as they are aware of the account from a previous lesson. The student said it's not their personal account and only for photographic purposes as a hobby (for example pictures of bees close up, black and white photos and amazing landscape photos), so they know what the account content is like. The student is 16 years old but the teacher is now no longer teaching at the college.

What would be the correct and legal thing to do?

1) Wait until they turn 18 and then follow their Instagram account?
2) As they are no longer a student at the college but could go into another college, wait until they turn 17?
3) Add them anyway (which they know is wrong anyway but they haven't)?
4) Ask their parent(s) if it's OK to follow their account?
5) Add them but dont send private messages, only view images, like and comment (as comments are public)?
6) Add them but don't like or comment on any images?
7) Ignore the request

The account is not private, but they might think seeing comments and likes from a teacher, make them have that happy feeling seeing feedback as they know it's from someone they know that taught them for many years.

What is the correct thing to do here in the UK.

Has anyone else had a similar problem?

Any advice or further reading would be useful?
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Reply Sun 6 Sep, 2020 10:09 am
If the staff member no longer works for the college in question and the student is still a student at said college, then the said college has no power to enforce any of their rules and regulations on someone who no longer works for them.

A grey area might be if the same student enrolls at the new college the same staff member has started working at, and that staff member starts following the same student before they change colleges.

I don't think it matters what the age of the student is beyond whatever rules and regulations the staff member's new college has. As I'm sure there are people "of legal age" following Greta Thunberg.

I don't know what UK law says about it though, although got my doubts it would say it's illegal to "follow" someone who is underage on social media sites.
Reply Sun 6 Sep, 2020 10:17 am
Jc001 wrote:


This teacher and student have both left the college. ...
Nothing else matters from what you wrote.

They're gone; it should be as if they were never there.

The college has no say in the matter.

PS Unless I had signed some sort of nondisclosure or similar arrangement which would cover the time after I had left a company (and at least in the US, the enforceability of such agreements is truly suspect, as they tend to be what's called a contract of adhesion), then I would be appalled by any former employer trying to dictate what I could do after I left their employ.

If GDPR or the like applies, then maybe things are different.

And either way, you should be talking to the school's legal department about this. That's what they're there for.
Reply Mon 7 Sep, 2020 03:09 pm
The student and the staff member have both left the college. The teacher has gone to another form of employment and the student has gone to another college.
I think they will play it safe and wait till they are 18 and then follow their account.
Looking at the terms and conditions using Instagram, the user has to be 13 years and older to have an account. It is an open account which they are aware of, but one day they might decide to make it private.

Thanks for the information.
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Reply Mon 7 Sep, 2020 03:18 pm
Thanks for the information. I think really it is down to are they allowed to follow someone on Instragram even though they are under 18 and as someone who worked in a college just needed reassurance that if they do follow they are not breaking any rules and it is OK to follow. I think they will wait till they are 18 and then follow. It's an open account but maybe one day they will make it private.
Thanks for the information.
Reply Mon 7 Sep, 2020 05:07 pm
No one else on Instagram has any qualms about following accounts run by minors.
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