Currently, Ohio Wesleyan does not get signed permission for social media when images are taken by University-hired photographers or videographers at public campus/community events or when others post images that tag the University. We will continue to monitor this topic.

The following information is excerpted from’s “Navigating Privacy Laws in Higher Education Social Media.”


Because social media is somewhat new and case law can take years to get established, there aren’t clear-cut rules for dealing with confidentiality in the context of social media. But let’s establish some best practices that should serve you well in most circumstances.

Best Practices:

You should strive to get signed permission when:

  • A person is clearly identifiable in a photo or video.
  • You plan to identify a person (list his or her name or other identifying information) in a photo or video. Note: This situation crops up often when people send you information to share. The fact that seven participants in a university robot competition are lined up and smiling for a photo isn’t necessarily consent to being identified in a photo online. Ask the students.
  • You’re shooting in a private or somewhat private place (e.g. residence hall or classroom).
  • You plan to use the photo or video for overt marketing purposes. Note: A key question to ask students is what they reasonably expect will be done with their likeness. Don’t abuse that.
  • Your photo or video shows off work (e.g. art, presentations, math assignments) that a student did for class. That work is considered part of a student’s educational record, which is protected by FERPA.

Try to get signed permission, but don’t stress about it when:

  • You’re shooting a large crowd of people in a non-private setting.
  • You’re shooting students who are performing on stage or participating in an athletic event.
  • It’s not easy to visually identify the students, such as when they’re shot from the back or obscured in some way.

Odds and ends:

  • When a student shares a photo on a university’s social media site, you may consider that a basic release. That release, however, doesn’t apply to other students who may be in the photo. For example, it’s probably OK to retweet a student’s selfie showing off the new college sweatshirt she just bought. But if she’s standing with other students, realize that you don’t have their consent.
  • Verbal permission is iffy; get signed releases when possible.
  • It is possible for someone to revoke a release after a photo has been published. When that happens, take it down.
  • If you don’t know whether a student has a FERPA hold, don’t do anything to identify him or her as a student of your school. Don’t add the student to a public Twitter list of students, for example.
  • Records created while a person was a student are protected by FERPA even after the student graduates. So the fact that a former student has now graduated doesn’t give you permission to share photos of him during his time at school. Nor does it give you permission to share his classroom artwork, for example, without his explicit consent.