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Following An Instagram Account

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NC68 | 23:43 Thu 20th Aug 2020 | Law
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Working at a college, this question came up.

A staff member that works at a college and soon going to move on to pastures new, has the following question that was asked and wanted to know the correct answer.

What is the correct and legal thing to do when it comes to social media as a staff member and a student that has now left the same college.

Say you worked at a college as a teacher and a student showed you their Instagram page as they wanted to show you their photographic skills and the style of photos they used during a lesson. Having seeing the page, you were amazed at what they took and were impressed with the photos.

The college does have social media rules and regulations when it comes to social media and safeguarding i.e don't give out personal information, don't add any students, dont post anything online that links you to where you work etc. This has been adhered to and protocol has been followed by the book.

What is the correct thing to do in the following scenario?

This teacher and student have both left the college. When collecting GCSE results, saying thanks and goodbye, the student asked the teacher, if they could follow their Instagram account and stay in contact and show their photographic skills online via Instagram knowing they have shown them already as they are aware of the account from a previous lesson. The student said it's not their personal account and only for photographic purposes as a hobby (for example pictures of bees close up, black and white photos and amazing landscape photos), so they know what the account content is like. The student is 16 years old but the teacher is now no longer teaching at the college.

What would be the correct and legal thing to do?

1) Wait until they turn 18 and then follow their Instagram account?
2) As they are no longer a student at the college but could go into another college, wait until they turn 17?
3) Add them anyway (which they know is wrong anyway but they haven't)?
4) Ask their parent(s) if it's OK to follow their account?
5) Add them but dont send private messages, only view images, like and comment (as comments are public)?
6) Add them but don't like or comment on any images?
7) Ignore the request

The account is not private, but they might think seeing comments and likes from a teacher, make them have that happy feeling seeing feedback as they know it's from someone they know that taught them for many years.

What is the correct thing to do here in the UK.

Has anyone else had a similar problem?

Any advice or further reading would be useful?

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