A social media epidemic: Harmful LSE Instagram pages used as an outlet for public shaming

Chloe Fitzgibbon, Copy Editor, Social Media Team

A number of Lincoln Southeast High School (LSE) instagram accounts have been circulating throughout the course of this first semester, all serving one ultimate purpose: to embarrass people. 

These accounts contain a multitude of unsolicited photos of people and their cars, displaying acts such as people engaging in public display of affection (PDA) in the school hallways, poor park jobs and photos of students and staff with the obvious intent to bully or make fun of. 

Senior Adalia Maiyo is one of the many victims featured on the LSE bad parking account. In fact, she has been on it three times.

For Maiyo, she doesn’t think that the parking page is quite as harmful or embarrassing as some of the others. In fact, to her, being put on it is funny. 

“I think that some of them are just meant to be playful and funny like the parking page,” Maiyo said. “However, the [other pages]* like are only there to harass people and should have never been created in the first place.” 

After being informed by a student of one of the more harmful accounts, LSE English teacher Allyssa Allaire reported the account to LSE administration on Dec. 2. Expecting swift action to have this account taken down, it surprised Allaire that the account was still up and actively posting even a week and a half later.

Although unsure about the power LSE or Lincoln Public Schools (LPS)has over removing social media accounts, Allaire wishes the reactions were faster because of the harmful consequences of these posts and photos, and she believes could be done about it.

Speaking on behalf of the LSE Administration, LSE Principal Tanner Penrod says they have been doing what they can to stop this, yet have little power to accomplish their goals. 

“It’s incredibly disappointing that students are using social media to potentially embarrass their peers and to post pictures of students without their knowledge,” Penrod said. “And at the same time, it’s incredibly frustrating as we feel powerless to protect our students and protect our school in the manner in which we would like.” 

LSE Administrators have taken two approaches in an attempt to get these accounts taken down. The first one is to identify the account owners. 

“We’ve done our best to investigate a number of these accounts by looking at the earliest followers and interviewing them to try to identify who started the accounts. However, those have not been successful investigations,” he said. 

Unless the account owner is identified, administration does not have the power to directly take an Instagram account down. 

Their second approach is to ask students to report the accounts to Instagram. 

“If the account gets reported by multiple people, potentially it might pop up on Instagram’s radar, and they may or may not do something to help. But as I already said, that hasn’t led to anything positive yet,” Penrod said. 

However, he says these approaches have had some adverse effects to their goals.

“In our experience, the more we’ve talked to students about it, the more followers the accounts get,” Penrod said. 

Although unsure about legal punishment pertaining to this case, Penrod says that taking pictures of people unknowingly is a violation of the school code of conduct, and “appropriate consequences would be would be levied against the individual took the picture and or the person who was posting them and redistributing those pictures.”

Maiyo believes that many students have been on their best behavior lately, out of fear of making it on one of these accounts. 

“Many of my friends have said that they’ve re-parked multiple times in fear of getting on the page,” Maiyo said. 

Although this may appear to be a positive thing, Penrod doesn’t believe it is the correct method of maintaining good behavior. 

“I don’t think public shaming is an effective deterrent, nor is it a safe deterrent to misbehavior,” he said.

As a message to the student body, Penrod has a few things that he would like people to consider before posting to social media. 

“One I would want people to be mindful of the potential hurt and shame that posting somebody’s image without permission could do to that individual, even if somebody might think something is done as a joke,” he said. “Those featured in these imagesvery well could be embarrassed and ashamed for how they are portrayed online and want people to understand the things that are posted online stay forever.” 

And as for those who have been affected by the accounts, Penrod wants them to know that he, alongside admin and the district, will continue to keep fighting for their students.

“I would want them to know that as a school and as a district, we are sorry if they have been portrayed in a negative or embarrassing light, and we will continue to be as diligent as possible to investigate these accounts in an effort to get them removed,” Penrod said. “More generally speaking, I would want the entire community to know that these accounts run counter to the mission and goals of our school in terms of keeping a safe, positive, productive environment so students can focus on being their best self while learning, and we found these accounts have done nothing to improve the culture and climate of our school.”

Penrod continues to encourage anyone who comes across a harmful account to report it.

“Whether it’s the images or the accounts, unfortunately, I think that’s our best mode of action right now to potentially get them removed,” Penrod said. 

 

* The names of the social media accounts that may cause more harm have been left unnamed in order to prevent increased traffic towards them