Back in June, we co-hosted a webinar on emerging risks in the higher education sector. With the help of our claims partner Gallagher Bassett, and insurance risk and commercial law firm BLM, we looked at some of new challenges universities are up against.
One of the topics we covered was social media and the harm it can cause to student wellbeing and university reputation.
Read on to get a summary of the key issues we touched on and enjoy a short clip of the webinar at the bottom.
Social media: the good, the bad and the ugly
Social media has been around for such a long time, and it’s now getting to a point where some of us can’t remember life without it. It’s grown and multiplied into something we could never have imagined and shows no signs of slowing down.
These platforms are developing at such a rate that it’s making risk managing their negative impact very difficult to stay on top of.
A digital report at the beginning of the year by Hootsuite, WeAreSocial and Kepios gives a stark picture of social media’s reach and just how deeply ingrained it is in everyday life:
Social media is often the first place we go to communicate, learn something new, read the news, tell friends and family about a major life event and much more.
It’s made life very public, and it can often feel as though there’s no protection around what people say and who they can target.
For universities, social media can be seen as a double-edged sword. On the one hand it can spread positive achievements, promote the good reputation of the institution and even boost enrolment figures.
But its darker side can bring the university into disrepute. Defamatory comments from staff or students can reflect badly on the institution and can often be mistaken as their own. It can have a major impact on the brand of the university and in some cases affect their funding and research opportunities
Social media is also a breeding ground for online bullies and it’s becoming a growing concern for universities in terms of student mental health and wellbeing.
UK legislation is on the way that will hopefully better protect us. The Online Harms Bill looks to hold social media companies to account and penalise them for not taking responsibility for their user’s safety.
It builds on the government’s manifesto to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online, while at the same time defend people’s freedom of expression.
Watch a clip from the webinar
Steve Kuncewicz is Head of Creative, Digital and Marketing Sector Group at BLM. He talks us through what the Harms Bill means for social media companies and how it can better protect universities and the wider public from harmful content.
Published date: 8th September 2021
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