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Student's Rant on Facebook Deemed Legal Under First Amendment Rights

Student's Rant on FB Protected by First Amendment

We all know that the ability to hide behind a computer screen can bring out the worst in some people, but where do we draw the line between expressing your feelings about a particular person and cyberbullying? In 2007, a Florida high school student was suspended for "cyberbullying" because she created a Facebook page as a central place she and her fellow students could gripe about one of her teachers. Was she in the wrong? Not according to a federal magistrate, who recently ruled that she's protected by her first amendment rights to complain about her teachers online, since she was off school campus when she did so, and the posts were non-threatening in nature.

Do you agree? We've already seen federal court judges using Facebook status updates in cases, so what is keeping school officials from using a student's social network activity as a way to support evidence of misconduct?

Image Source: Getty
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hyzenthlay20 hyzenthlay20 7 years
I was talking with other teachers at school about this yesterday. Earlier this year we had a couple of students create a false Facebook page for one of our student teachers (including uploading a picture and friending the students in her class), pretending to be her. The students were suspended for 5 days and we went through all sorts of things to make sure that our student teacher was not associated with the page at all (and that it was taken down). We also talked about what would have happened if a teacher had done this exact same thing. Obviously, the teacher would have had other issues, but we couldn't imagine a judge coming down on this side of the situation, either. I'm not saying I agree or disagree with any of what happened (aside from the fake FB page), but it brings up a LOT of questions about what is allowed and not allowed and what is and is not appropriate.
thecolor thecolor 7 years
I totally agree. If people don't have a safe place to vent (words will never hurt), then they are going to create a place, (and in the "real world" sticks and stones will)... not top mention the other types of weapons they could get their hands on... and this goes for everyone, not just children.
skigurl skigurl 7 years
i could see using status updates in a case if it were, say, a case of abuse or murder and you were able to go back to the fb group and see a threat or an expression of hatred for the victim or something like that but just having a group to vent and gripe in a non-threatening manner is no different when it regards a teacher than when it regards a government program or a process (for example complaining about the money spent on the olympics) or making a group to talk about how much you hate a certain band (nickelback anyone?)...why would a teacher be different than a band, in this case?
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