Editorial: Social media accounts created to embarrass students need to be taken down


Caleb Audia

Since the recovery from the COVID-19 lockdowns, students have noticed an increase in inappropriate social media accounts. Opinion writer Caleb Audia created this graphic with Canva to show his opinion of the staff of the newspaper. In the attached editorial, he and co-writers Christi Norris and Gabriella Winans call for an end to posts that could hurt people. If students find themselves victims of one of these accounts, they can report the it on the Instagram app by clicking on the three dots, selecting the “Report” option, and selecting “Report Account.”

High school is a place where different levels of age and maturity meet. Not only is this a struggle socially, but the stress that comes with education typically increases throughout the year. Students often turn to social media as an escape from that stress, but with the creation of some social media accounts aimed at the embarrassment of students, staff and residents, people find themselves targeted – even in the comfort of their own homes.

Social media accounts created to embarrass or degrade Prosper students, staff and community members need to be reported and taken down by the platform they are on, and taken to administration for bullying.

In a survey of more than 6,000 people from the ages of 10 to 18 from June to August, 50% of people have experienced at least one instance of cyberbullying in their lifetime. On top of this, cyberbullying has had a 70% increase since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to enough.org. Though teachers in a recent Google survey said cyberbullying was their No. 1 concern, accounts meant to embarrass students or other community members have had no action taken against them.

This needs to change.

While some platforms  – such as Instagram’s – terms of use may differ from the district rules of online engagement, one rule remains clear: accounts created for the purpose of bullying and harassment are prohibited.

Take for example, accounts such as “Prosper Underage Smash or Pass” – an Instagram account that posted photos of students, and asked its followers to say if they would “smash or pass” in the comments. This account was reported by students across the distrct, and can no longer be found on Instagram, but there are still dozens of other student-run accounts that can facilitate similar bullying and harm – not only to students – but also to other members of the community.

While the “Smash or Pass” account may have been deleted, reported, or archived, there remains a multitude of Instagram accounts still active that have proven to be detrimental to students and staff. These are accounts such as “dilfsofprosper,” “prosperstupidity,” “_phs_hotties,” “prosper_shoe,” “phs_confidential,” “prosperhighschoolrumours,” “phsfeetofficial,” “prosper.post6ure,” and “prosper.posture.”

Many of these accounts attempt to be humorous in their posts, but, in fact, create content that harbors division amongst students. These accounts spread rumors, mock students for their exhaustion, bad posture, feet, shoes, or even for their “stupidity.” One of these – “dilfsofprosper” – even features coaches, teachers and fathers as targets, as these individuals are inappropriately titled “dilfs.” The existence of these accounts can disrupt the learning environment for not only the staff, but for the students, as well.

However, there comes an argument that there is a “gray area” when it comes to certain social media accounts. Accounts such as “prosper_naptime,” “prosper_cantpark” and “prosperbadparking” do not necessarily “bully” students, as most of the accounts’ posts are done consensually, and people can have their photos taken down. Though, these accounts should strive to stay away from inflicting harm on anyone, as to not cause any further issues.

In contrast to these accounts that spread negativity, there are still student-run accounts that do have a positive existence – such as “prosperhs.compliments” “prosper.barstool” and “prosperbarbz.” Accounts such as these spread positivity, or, at the very least, keep the humor lighthearted – not targeting students or encouraging humiliation or bullying. These accounts’ posts show that their owners are focused on building school spirit, spreading kindness and discouraging bullying – all of which the district needs more of.

Negative accounts, such as the others mentioned, should be reported by students, as they are notably causing harm to both the community and to the platforms that they are on. If students feel further threatened, or harassed, by these accounts, they should also consider reporting the account to the school administration.

Students should strive to promote a positive environment for everyone in Prosper – both in-person and online – by not supporting the accounts that focus on tearing people down. Instead, bolster accounts that promote school spirit and positivity in our community.

We could all use a little more of that.