Can Universities legally control what their pupils put on Facebook?

Well yes and no. I represent many of the Universities in South Africa and assist them on a daily basis with their social media accounts.


Facebook states on their website the following:


“People use Facebook to share their experiences and to raise awareness about issues that are important to them. This means that you may encounter opinions that are different from yours, which we believe can lead to important conversations about difficult topics. To help balance the needs, safety, and interests of a diverse community, however, we may remove certain kinds of sensitive content or limit the audience that sees it.”


Users of Facebook are allowed to express their opinions and feelings as long as they do not contravene any of the terms, “community Standards” or policies of Facebook. All of these can be found on their website. Facebook states that they will “remove content, disable accounts, and work with law enforcement when they believe there is a genuine risk of physical harm or direct threats to public safety”.


Facebook makes special mention of dangerous organizations, bullying and harassment, criminal activity and direct threats. Should any user of Facebook or the University feel that another user has contravened these provisions then they are able to report the abuse with Facebook. There is a link for “REPORT ABUSE” on the website or you can use the Report link that appears near the content itself.


In the case of the #feesmustfall campaign, a discussion between students on Facebook would be allowed but should the students create a Facebook page which orchestrates criminal activity, the University would be able to lodge a complaint with Facebook and request that the page be taken down immediately.