Can school officials search my personal social media accounts?

Every week, Student Press Law Center attorneys answer a frequently asked question about student media law in “Ask SPLC.”

Q: Are school officials allowed to search for and look at my personal (non-school-affiliated) social media accounts without my permission?

A: Yes. Once you post something online it’s pretty much fair game for anyone (school officials, current or potential employers, law enforcement officials) to dig up and review in whatever way your social media platform’s privacy settings allow. No search warrants or other special permission is required. Of course, simply looking at your social media postings is one thing (allowed); punishing you for that content is a whole other (big and complicated) can of worms that courts and lawmakers continue to struggle with.

Legal questions should be directed toward SPLC’s legal hotline. Ask SPLC questions will be selected based on trends in the legal hotline. The legal hotline is confidential and no identifying information will be used in the Ask SPLC segment.