O365 Groups Privacy

All PSU active account holders have access to the Groups feature of Microsoft Office 365. In Groups, members can exchange emails, send files, and collaborate on documents. A group can be a collaborative hub for cluster projects, student organizations, academic departments, and more.

When using Groups, it is important to designate the privacy settings of the group prior to creating it. On the group creation screen, there will be a prompt to select either public or private options for the group.

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By clicking “Public,” all PSU active account holders have access to the group, and can join at any time. The email conversations, files, and the calendar of the group are accessible to all. This can be great for connecting with the outside community, which may be useful for student organizations and cluster projects. In a public group, any current PSU student, faculty, or staff member simply needs to find the group in an Office 365 app to add their ideas to the conversation.

Some content, however, is not appropriate for public groups, or groups in general. A public group is transparent; if used inappropriately, it may inadvertently become a vehicle for others to discover sensitive information about group members. Groups that will exchange emails and files that are not meant for the public eye should have their privacy settings adjusted accordingly.

For groups that will be sharing personal information and files, be sure to check off “Private” prior to the group’s creation. In addition, a preexisting group can be changed from “public” to “private”, but additional steps are required to ensure previously shared documents are also changed to private. Please see the video below for step-by-step instructions:

Some information, such as student exam scores, should NEVER be shared in a group, regardless of its privacy settings. These documents have privacy laws (FERPA) attached to them which may be violated by being shared online. For more information on where to store files, read the “Where is the Best Place to Store My Documents?” article in the PSU Knowledgebase.

If you are unsure about a group’s privacy settings, or need help changing the privacy settings of an existing group, please contact the Help Desk at Plymouth State University by emailing helpdesk@plymouth.edu.