Protecting Speech on Social Networks

By Katie Ash — February 17, 2010 1 min read
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When it comes to the ethics of social-networking and schools, there’s still quite a bit that falls into a hazy, gray area. Are teachers allowed to befriend students on sites such as Facebook? Are students allowed to vent about teachers, administrators, and school in general on social-networking sites? And how can what a student posts, while outside of school on these public Web sites, impact their lives in school?

Principal Peter Bayer of Pembroke Pines Charter High School outside of Pembroke Pines, Fla., as well as student Katie Evans, who created a Facebook group to complain about one of her teachers, are learning the limits of those boundaries. Because of the online complaints, Evans was bumped from her AP classes and suspended, but a federal magistrate has now ruled that what she posted on Facebook was within her First Amendment rights.

Mark Walsh, at the School Law blog, has a detailed entry about this story, which has major implications for the limits of free speech on social-networking sites.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.