Should you post pictures of students on your college website or social media page?

With many colleges and universities conducting high school visits, where groups of students are assembled in a classroom or auditorium to learn about the visiting school, it can be a great marketing tool for the university to post pictures afterward on favorite social media sites. But the question that often arises is: can we post pictures of these events with the high school students? The answer is that although there is no specific prohibition on the practice of posting pictures of students online, you should consider a few things before doing so.

First, ensure the relevant state privacy laws (if any) do not prohibit posting such pictures. Next, check with the individual school as to what their policy is on use of photos. The school may have a form or policy in place that allows parents to decide whether or not to consent to the use of their child’s photo. Even though such a form may apply strictly to the home school’s use of photos, and technically not to your university, you don’t want to run afoul of a parents’ express wishes when you have the ability to ascertain their position on the matter. Even if the home school has no policy or parent forms denying consent for the use of their child’s photo, it’s a best practice to avoid posting one-on-one photos of students, or photos in which a student is readily identified. If you must post a photo of a class, consider taking it from the back of the room, where none of the students’ faces are seen. Of course, never identify any student by name in photo captions.

Again, unless a state law clearly prohibits you from posting, you are free to post pictures as you see fit. However, to preserve your university’s good name and avoid a bad image, keep a good line of communication open with the schools you are visiting, and they should help you navigate what is considered appropriate for their community.