Should teachers be communicating with students through social media sites? The State of Missouri says “no,” and a newly enacted law is stirring a debate between the benefits and pitfalls of social media on the ability of teachers to effectively communicate with their students.
Missouri recently enacted the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act, a 35 page act that includes two sentences that are causing quite a stir and earning it the nickname the “Facebook Law.”
No teacher shall establish, maintain, or use a work-related internet site unless such site is available to school administrators and the child’s legal custodian, physical custodian, or legal guardian.
No teacher shall establish, maintain, or use a nonwork-related internet site which allows exclusive access with a current or former student.
The politician supporting the act explained that the “primary aim is to prevent teachers who have sexually assaulted a student,” and the “idea is to discourage teachers and students from communicating exclusively, without a parent, guardian or school administrator being able to access the message.”
Others are concerned with the potential chilling effect on student/teacher communication, and “will lead to teachers erring on the side of caution and communicating less with students, resulting in weaker relationships.” And a representative of the ACLU believes the bill “silences a lot more speech than would be necessary to attack the problem.”
Have an opinion on whether Missouri’s’ “Facebook law” does more harm than good? Than raise your hand and tell us what you think.
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Ethan teaches social media CLE programs to lawyers, law firms, and legal associations. He can design a one hour, half day, or full day workshop at your office, firm retreat, or conference that will be approved for both ethics and general CLE credit. Learn more about how Ethan can be your social media law keynote speaker at your next conference on topics related to social media and the law.