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Expert Says Social Media Etiquette Classes Could Prevent HS Scandals

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A two-word tweet turned into a two-month suspension for the captain of the Rogers basketball team.

And the controversy surrounding Reid Sagehorn’s tweet and subsequent suspension has students and parents upset and confused.

“Reid is carrying the weight of every tweet that got put on that site and I don’t think that’s fair,” said parent Kris Hall.

“It’s just unfair to him, and I feel like we should have guidelines that we should be able to follow,” said student Nate Weber.

The problem that school officials and students are having is that nowadays, anyone can create a website – and they can do it anonymously. It takes just minutes to set it up and even less time to take it down.

Online expert David Erickson thinks Rogers students are far from alone in creating sexually-explicit websites.

While he thinks parents may have to act as online police for their kids, it’s the schools, Erickson says, that may ultimately have to provide “social media etiquette” classes.

“I think they’re in a tough situation,” Erickson said. “These are our new communications tools that anybody can use, and how you use them matters. And taking responsibility for how you use them matters.”

Erickson said that students often don’t realize that when they try and delete a website to cover their tracks, it’s not gone and it’s not forgotten. Both Google and their computer file it away.

“When you visit a website on your browser, you’re actually downloading a file of that website to your own computer, so there are copies of that,” he said.

School officials have been meeting with Sagehorn’s parents, and Superintendent Mark Bezek said it’s possible the suspension could be revisited.

Sagehorn’s tweet could still lead to criminal charges, according to the Hennepin County Attorney’s office.

Sagehorn tweeted the words “actually, yes,” in response to a question on a sexually-explicit website that suggested he was having a relationship with a 28-year-old teacher.

His friends say the tweet was sarcastic, but the senior has been suspended from school.

The teacher has been cleared of any wrong doing. Two students admitted to creating the website, which has since been taken down.

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