Could a social media follow be considered stalking on campus?

Following on social media may seem harmless, but it could be seen as stalking.

A warning for anyone using social media: Be careful who you follow or even more so, pass on ‘liking’ a photo.

NBC Charlotte Defender, Mark Boyle talked with experts who says she knows people who have been kicked out of school for unwanted follow requests as they were considered “stalking.”

Warshaw Burstein attorney, Kimberly Lau says she has, “seen over a hundred of these types of cases all across the country.”

Lau explains how one wrong move on social media can costs students their scholarships or even their diplomas.

“These messages inevitably are submitted as evidence possibly against you because you are unable to explain the full context of what you meant at that moment.”

Lau says breaking the law in society is one thing but students are being busted for violating the student code of conduct, which could land you in what students call the campus 'kangaroo court', where you have no right to a lawyer.

“What I'm noticing is invariably the label of sexual misconduct and is now including a lot more conduct than what the everyday person may consider sexual misconduct.”

What could that mean?

“I'm seeing things such as sending too many Instagram follower requests count as stalking which will fall under a schools sexual misconduct policy,” says Lau.

We checked with some large schools in our area.

UNC Charlotte sent a statement when we asked if this is a major issue here.

The school spokesperson says:

"when concerning posts come to their attention, the office reviews them under the Code of Student Responsibility and the Fighting Words Harassment policy to determine if the posting violates anything related to direct threats or derogatory words directed at a specific person or group of people."

Both Davidson college and Queens University tell us they have never suspended or expelled anyone or posts made on social media sites.

However, legal experts say parents should warn their kids before sending them off to college, it's best not to text about sex.

“It's probably better to just put your phone down and not use your messaging when you're involved with and to make a relationship type of behavior.”

Also, be careful with yours posts, your tags and your friend requests.

Those on-campus disciplinary boards may not seem like a big deal, but attorneys say they have a lasting impact if a student is found to have broken the rules.

And remember, the burden of proof is not ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ in those student code of conduct hearings.

“School campuses, in these campus tribunals, their standard of evidence is much lower. it's by a preponderance of the evidence."

Lau shared the top five tips to help avoid trouble on campus with NBC Charlotte. The ones that students don't learn at orientation.

You can find the full list of tips here.

© 2017 WCNC.COM


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