Facebook: Teachers and Students Must be Careful

There is no doubt that as social media platforms such as Google +, Twitter, and Facebook continue to increase in popularity that learning how to use these tools in any profession is going to be a learning process. When it comes to education increasing school districts and entire states are looking to legislate how teachers will be allowed to interact online. In an article on CNN today it is reported that Missouri has enacted a law that bans some teacher-student communication through Facebook.

One primary quote from the article “The law doesn’t prohibit social media contact,” Cunningham told CNN. “If anybody says it does then they have not read the law,” she said. “It just stops exclusivity, we just want those conversations to be available to the parents and school districts,” Cunningham said. I think that in general this not a totally bad idea.

Of course there is going to be certain communications that teachers have with students that for privacy reason should not be made public to anyone. Also I have some concern that students will not ask as many questions if they know that all their classmates and friends will see the question and perhaps offer ridicule for having to ask the question. In generalI get who law makers and parents would like a law like this.

The shortcoming here is that true predatory teachers are not going to make “moves” on students in such a way that would leave the paper trail that online communications does. Of course cases in which a teacher communicated with students and it eventually led to bad behavior can be found. I wonder though if those teachers would have never behaved that way had Facebook not been around. Was it the opportunity that Facebook provided or would these people have eventually taken advantage of a student anyway.

Additionally I wonder if states can make laws such as these when it relates to High School and College teachers on the State payroll. Is there a freedom of speech or other protection that would be relevant to two people over the age of 18 communicating?

As the internet grows over the next decades the courts and law makers will have untold numbers of fights about what can legally be put into place in regards to cutting off different methods of communication between people.

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