See no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil. Cartoon by Valerie Russell: The Signal.
Potential social media policy could silence student online presence
KaraLove:@sashacutie Oh man, I just had to pay tuition. This college charges way too much! SashaCutie:@karalove I know!!! I hate this school sometimes! CLUniversity:@sashacutie@karalove Your posts have been removed due to non-compliance with CLU’s social media use policy.
In this technology-driven society, social media has become the way to connect with friends and family, and to have your voice be heard. But what if the university you attended had the right to control what was said about the institution?
In October, Sam Houston State University proposed a social media policy that would give the university authority to edit all university-related social media accounts. The blanket policy would have potentially included student organizations with Facebook pages or Twitter accounts and even the school newspaper.
After students, including the student newspaper staff, protested the policy, administrators dropped the draft, but the potential for another social media policy to happen again in any university is out there.
College is where young adults figure out who they want to be as a person; they question authority and learn to think outside of the box.
Such policies contradict the whole ideology of college. It turns the college experience into a police-state environment where students are afraid to speak their minds in fear of being censored by the very institution that is supposed to open their minds.
UHCL does not have any social media policies, but what the university has implemented this semester is malware detection software. The detection software is supposed to help students, faculty and staff from getting onto sites that could pose a security threat to the UHCL network, but in the process, it also blocks sites the UHCL community needs for day-to-day business.
It is similar to child protection programs that block sites that may be too adult for children on home computers. In theory, such programs are a good idea, allowing parents to feel safe knowing their children will not see anything they are not supposed to, but in reality, it works too well. The software blocks so much it becomes more of a hassle and grievance than a helpful tool.
That is what the UHCL malware detection software has become for The Signal staff, a grievance. The Signal has had issues with being blocked from the administration side of our own website – making it impossible to post stories, moderate comments or perform upkeep on the site. Staff members have also been blocked from sites used to fact check or research articles and sites that enhance our videos and slideshows.
There is a process the UHCL community can go through to unblock sites they need, and we have contacted UCT whenever we have had an issue. UCT employees have been helpful, promptly unblocking each site, usually within a day or two. The problem is, we usually need access now, not in a day or two.
Politician and educator Edward Everett said, “Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army.” What if the ones responsible for educating are also the ones oppressing our rights?
The Signal staff can appreciate the necessity of protecting the university against online security threats. Malware detection software should have the ability to be set at many different levels of security. Perhaps UHCL needs to adjust our level?
The Signal staff would like to know if we are the only ones on campus having issues with the software. Anyone experiencing problems accessing websites because of UHCL’s new malware detection software is encouraged to complete a brief, anonymous survey.