I am very reluctant to create social media accounts. I once had to create an account for Instagram as an optional assignment. However, one of my teachers is requiring us to follow their Facebook account in order to receive updates and things about the classroom. We also use an app called Remind - a classroom friendly option made especially for students.

Now I wouldn’t have a problem with this if 1. Facebook wasn’t required to be installed on my phone in order to receive notifications, 2. Remind wasn’t enough to cover all the functions needed (but it does perfectly fine in what our classroom needs), but the bigger problem I’m having is that 3. recent Facebook privacy problems like the Cambridge Analytica problem really cause a concern to my privacy. Facebook does not have much to do with school, and it might also be somewhat another distraction in this world. I don’t use social media for a reason. I’m not trying to make a case here, please don’t think that, but I’m not sure if I am able to be required to create an account for Facebook.

Could someone please tell me the greatest extent a school/teacher can go in creating accounts on websites? Thanks :)

  • What grade/type of school? Public or private? How old are you? What country? Jul 23, 2019 at 22:48
  • I’m in public high school in the US Jul 24, 2019 at 1:33

1 Answer 1


The answer is either "yes they can" or "no they can't", depending on the specifics of the school. The teacher answers to school policy, so if there is a policy forbidding such an requirement, then they can't, otherwise they can. Whether or not there is such a school policy depends in turn on specifics regarding the school, primarily (a) whether the policy-setters of the school agree with your concerns (or similar issues), or (b) any applicable laws that the school would be subject to. A review of all possible relevant laws would be impossible, given how many countries / states / provinces and municipalities there are in the world. However, even for public schools in the US, there is no legal principle to the effect that governmental schools cannot tell students what to do. While not disparaging your concerns (and assuming you are asking about a US public school), this is basically a political problem. School districts have wide latitude to make students do things that are relevant to their education.

One imaginable legal path for overturning this policy would be FERPA, whereby student records must not be disclosed. The problem is that signing up for a Facebook account is not per se unauthorized disclosure of student records, but it has the potential to be such. In the case of records clearly maintained by the school, you can request the school to not release any information about you (including name and date of birth). The school would argue that they are not maintaining a record, they have in essence farmed that job out to a third party. The law also restricts third parties who are acting for the agency or institution – but Facebook isn't acting for the school. Instead, the school is using Facebook as an unwitting tool. In a real third-party provider situation, the third party will be under the direct control of the school.

It is a fairly standard interpretation of FERPA that educational communication between faculty and student should not be "out in the open", but that is also under an abundance-of-caution interpretation of the school's obligation to keep records private. At any rate, I think a FERPA angle is the most plausible basis for opposing this, and the legal argument will have to be creative.

  • Thanks for the information :) Just to clarify, it’s not illegal but the school has to maneuver it carefully to avoid a problem caused by Facebook? Jul 24, 2019 at 1:51

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