Podcast Explores Instagram, Cyberbullying, and Free Speech in a Queens School

This segment is part of a collaboration between and The Bell, an audio journalism program for New York City students. It was also broadcasted on The Bell’s Miseducation podcast on October 17.

The principal sent a letter via email to all the students, warning them to stop following anonymous Instagram accounts or face suspension.

Francis Lewis High School’s Principal, David Marmor, took immediate action upon discovering two accounts. One of the accounts posted fight videos, while the other contained offensive content that targeted specific students. Principal Marmor threatened to suspend students who followed these accounts. In addition, he declared that all “celebratory events” such as pep rallies would be canceled until the accounts were deleted or lost all their followers. This decision raised concerns about the boundary between students’ free speech online and punishable behavior.

According to a report by , the case quickly grabbed the attention of students in The Bell’s audio journalism program at a high school in New York City. The impact of social media on teenagers’ lives cannot be underestimated. Anonymous Instagram pages, where confessions, photos, and videos about school communities are shared, have become more common. Sometimes, the content on these pages is harmless, but other times, it contributes to vicious bullying.

The Bell’s Shoaa Khan (left) and Jose Santana (right).

The Bell’s Shoaa Khan and Jose Santana reached out to Alex Zimmerman from to discuss the events at Francis Lewis and the broader consequences of Principal Marmor’s actions. Should schools have the authority to regulate students’ social media activity? And if so, did Principal Marmor go too far?

This segment was hosted by Shoaa Khan, a senior from Manhattan, and Jose Santana, a senior from the Bronx.

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