How Can Private Schools Deal With Negative Blogs

JANUARY 18, 2013
The “blogosphere” has further complicated the lives of school administrators.  More schools are seeing instances of “negative blogs” concerning school administrative decisions, the hiring and firing of personnel and student participatory events such as school sports teams.  When confronted with a negative blog, how should a school respond?  Some steps to consider are:
(1)  Contact the Blog Hosting Company.  Most negative blogs are posted by individuals who do so anonymously.  If information is deemed harmful or dangerous, or involves an impersonation of a private person, contact the blog hosting company immediately as many will remove harmful or dangerous content, or content that involves impersonation of a private person.  However, most blog hosting companies take the position that absent these specific circumstances, they only provide “content creation tools” and do not monitor or mediate content regardless of how unappealing or distasteful or how unpopular the comments.
(2)  Provide a Comment to the Negative Blog.  If the blog hosting company does not remove the negative blog, consider preparing a response setting the record straight.  Care must be exercised in such circumstances and should be properly vetted to insure legal compliance and adherence to school public relations procedures and school policies.
(3)  Ignore the Negative Blog.   Most negative blogs die out quickly and usually have low traffic anyway.  Many times, the best strategy is to ignore the negative blog and use the school’s normal communication methods to explain any facts if the issue has created broad concern among the school community.
–David T. Stowell