Social Networking and Privacy

In Tools on September 11, 2009 by TIPS Team Tagged: , , ,

With the surging popularity of social networking websites, more students and young people are creating online profiles to share information about themselves. While this has created opportunities for personal expression, collaboration and the development of communities, social networking sites have also created many privacy concerns.  In this blog entry, we look at some resources from the Privacy Commissioner of Canada,  district FOIP regulations and some innovative tools that teachers use in the classroom.

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada has produced a short video explaining the problems associated with putting personal information on social network sites.  (Also see info sheet on Social Networking and Privacy).

Have you used Animoto?  Teachers and students have been using this website to quickly make multimedia presentations.  It’s very quick and slick – but as with other sites like YouTube and Flickr – there are privacy issues to keep in mind when using it.  So keep using it, just be aware of how you share it, the types of files you aer using, and remember to model ethical use (always.)  And…if you’re doing multimedia – check with your ITS Tech – the new version of Picasa (v.3 – free) has the same photo-montage with music features, does not require uploading files, and still provides the option to share on the internet (via YouTube) if desired.  It also gives other options for sharing video. See the link to Picasa for more details.

Animoto Site – privacy statement & Terms of Use ( )


This company is based in the US and therefore follows US privacy laws and the US Patriot Act, where the Federal government could potentially collect your personal information and you would never know, unless they stopped you at the border. When you send video links through their site, they collect the e-mail address that you are e-mailing the links to, they also use cookies (most sites you visit have these), but they say they do not sell the information they collect.  So this point is just something to generally be aware of.  For these kinds of sites I generally don’t like to use their “share” features – since the person whose email address I enter (so that they can see the video) may not want Animoto to have their email address.

The sites are password protected. If you delete a video, it is also deleted from your friend’s sites. You can delete your account and the video is more or less deleted.

The hyperlinks to video clips which you may have on an internal site, or are emailing to parents are extremely easy to post on-line or e-mail. There is no password or login required to view these videos, so they are – for all intents and purposes – on the public internet (although you won’t find them in a web search or accidentally type in the web address.)  For this reason you would have to have permission from parents before posting these online.  Here is a copy of the EPSB consent form for posting student information (photos, work, etc) on external sites.  If you’re planning on using Animoto or similar, you may want to include this form in your student registration materials as it only needs to be filled out once per school year.

Music – Staff using this site (and others like YouTube and a myriad of others) should be aware of the copyright issues regarding images and/or music, which are addressed in Animoto’s terms of use. Using a song that isn’t either:

it is against copyright to use.  Even songs that are legitimately downloaded from iTunes, or are ripped from a CD you own are not allowed to be uploaded to the public internet.

Student work – The federal Copyright Act requires that permission from the copyright owner, in this case the student, be obtained from the student’s parent to use or reproduce the schoolwork (e.g. artwork, essays, poems) in this way. For example, schools may want to display student artwork at community events or on a school’s web pages, or submit schoolwork to Alberta Education. Displaying the work would be considered a “public performance” of the work under the Copyright Act.

  • Copyright consent forms are normally part of the student registration process and is not generally a FOIP Act issue or privacy issue, unless the artwork contains personal information.  Click on the link for the release form For Student Artwork and Written Work

Student photos:
The terms of use state that if you want to publish someone else’s image you must get permission from that individual. by default, the videos created on Animoto are on the public internet, and therefore any students shown should have the proper consents in place. (Here is a copy of the EPSB consent form for posting student information (photos) on external sites.) The same rules apply if you’re going to give everyone in the class a copy of it (on CD-ROM or DVD for example).  If it is for school use (displayed at the school or even shown at an open house) you could show it without having those special permissions, keeping in mind anyone who may have already brought to your attention any privacy issues they may have.

Terry (TIPS)

For any other questions or concerns regarding FOIP and privacy in EPSB, contact:

Maryann Hammermeister
Edmonton Public Schools
District Records & FOIP Management


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