Building a caring online community

Building a caring online community
Posted on 04/20/2022
Building a caring online community

Building a caring online community

We recognize the value of social media. It’s a great way to share messages, interact with others, post photos, exchange ideas and facilitate connections. The great things about social media are really great. Unfortunately, the bad things about social media seem to be getting worse.

The past couple years have been hard for everyone. In that time, we have seen a concerning rise in users harnessing social media to make hurtful and divisive comments and to bully, harass or intimidate others. Social media has become a challenging place for people to engage without fear. 

Lately, we have been rethinking social media - why and how we use it and our responsibility to curate a safe and respectful online community. One way we can do that is by establishing expectations for how we engage with each other online. That means clearly stating that we will not tolerate racist, hateful, discriminatory, threatening, bullying, offensive or abusive language or behaviour.  

We know that when we post on social media, we can’t possibly make everyone happy. We welcome your feedback and the opportunity to learn and improve. We want to know when you disagree with our approach, tone, imagery, or wording. All we ask is that as members of a community, we be civil with one another and approach conversations from a place of kindness and respect. We believe that the majority of our community members feel the same way.

We’re going to continue to use social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, and are making a few changes.  

  • We will engage with our community about the importance of creating a safe and respectful online community; 
  • We will be clear that we do not tolerate racist, hateful, discriminatory, threatening, bullying, offensive or abusive language or behaviour.
  • We will promote awareness of how to use reporting functions on social media platforms;
  • We continue to actively monitor social media and will take action to protect our employees, students, families and community from misinformation or content that may be hateful or abusive;
  • We are turning off the comments feature on our Facebook page;
  • We will continue to monitor comments on other social media platforms and those received by direct message and will remove posts that are racist, hateful, discriminatory, threatening, bullying, offensive or use abusive language or behaviour.  
  • Where necessary, we will block users that violate our policy

You Can Help

We believe that the majority of our community members will welcome these changes.

Together, we can work to build a culture of caring across our community - in our schools and online. And we are asking you to join us in this effort. Here are some ways you can help:

Report offensive content:

If you see objectionable content, it is still recommended that you report it through the social media channel as a first step. You can learn more at the links below.

Facebook
Twitter

Instagram
YouTube
LinkedIn

TikTok

Any content that is bullying, threatening or hateful towards students or staff can be reported to the school principal or OCDSB via a direct message or email to [email protected] Please include any necessary details such as, username, date and time, a screenshot and link to the content if possible.

Dangerous or threatening content can also be shared with the Ottawa Police Service if necessary.

Avoid spreading rumours or speculation

Rumours, gossip, speculation and misinformation can spread incredibly fast online - and be incredibly damaging, particularly to students.

Don’t share or retweet content if you are unsure of whether it’s true or not. If you are concerned about an issue raised on social media, contact the school or OCDSB.

Do not engage 

We know some users create provocative or controversial posts for the purpose of generating anger. Do not retweet or engage, as this only helps their content reach more people.  

If you really feel you must retweet with a comment on Twitter, share your thoughts with an image of the tweet rather than retweeting.

Block or mute (Twitter)

Don’t hesitate to block a user on Twitter whose content may be offending you. Accounts you block cannot follow you, send Direct Messages to you or view your tweets when logged in on Twitter. More information can be found here.

An alternative to this is the Mute feature that allows you to remove an account's Tweets from your timeline without unfollowing or blocking that account. Muted accounts will not know that you’ve muted them and you can unmute them at any time.

Celebrate kindness

With all this talk about negativity, it’s good to think about the ways you can use social media to celebrate kindness and make someone’s day.

  • Highlight the good deeds of others
  • Share what you’re thankful for
  • Express gratitude
  • Send positive replies to others
  • Make someone laugh

Resources to help us all be better digital citizens

MediaSmarts has posted a series of materials including tip sheets and lesson plans for educators, parents and students about topics including digital citizenship, online hate, misinformation, journalism and digital literacy.

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