Troll MHS accounts populate Instagram

Kris Long, Print Editor-in-Chief

Instagram accounts documenting various parts of Manhattan High, from sleeping in class to what shoes people wear, have exploded in popularity over the past few weeks. Many of these accounts post pictures of banal areas of high school life for entertainment value. However, some have received attention due to claims of bullying or harassment.

“Some of [the accounts] it appears that some of the pictures people are allowing, almost as spoofs, [but] some of them are unwanted and not approved,” principal Micheal Dorst said. “People have contacted us to say ‘this is not a picture that I allowed to be taken,’ and we’ve been working with students using… our security cameras in the building, to identify the people who are taking them, and we’ve been successful in identifying one of the accounts and working with the owner to take it down.”

Parents have taken to local social media discussion groups to express concern about photo subjects and their parents not consenting to the photos being put on Instagram.  Although district policy requires parents or guardians to sign a waiver at enrollment to allow their student’s photo to be taken for school advertising and on picture day, this does not pertain to pictures taken by other students. While taking pictures of people without their consent in public places and events is legal, the school claims jurisdiction over pictures taken within the school building. There is also precedent from Supreme Court cases that allow schools to censor student speech if it causes a meaningful disruption to the school day, and there are school policies against bullying and harassment, which may relate to the situation on some of these accounts.

“There is still oversight that we have in the school of who’s taking pictures and especially posting pictures,” Dorst said. “I would argue that posting pictures meant to either call people out or hurt other people would cause a significant disruption of the school day because I am being informed by some of the people in those pictures that it’s hurtful. If I’m being told it was hurtful that’s causing a major disruption to the school day and we need to do our due diligence to do what we can to help either remove those pictures or call attention to it.”

The owner of accounts that bully or harass students or those taking pictures are subject to consequences from the school.

“[The students could see] the full range of consequences and the content that they’re posting,” Dorst said.

If students are concerned about their own picture on accounts or someone else’s, they can use the report function on their account to alert Instagram’s moderators of bullying and harassment which is against their user policy. Students should also inform MHS administrators.