Do Employer Social Media Practices trump 1st amendment rights?

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MissyJ's picture
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Do Employer Social Media Practices trump 1st amendment rights?

I know we have touched on this topic before but after yet another report of a teacher's personal Twitter account getting her into trouble, I wanted to get more of your input. Here is some of the coverage:

Students defend teacher in Twitter controversy

Twitter page contained half-naked pictures of Cherry Creek school teacher

High School Teacher Who Tweeted Semi-Nude Photos Of Herself, Posted About Doing Drugs Placed On Paid Leave

Most employers now offer social media practices as part of their corporate policy... some extending into your personal accounts and "advising" what you can and cannot post online. Obviously in recent media cases, we hear about the negative impact some actions may have on the company, job performance, etc.

Within this case, the students defending this teacher proclaim that everything she posted was legal (photos, marijuana use (in CO), etc.) and as posted on her personal account should not cost her job. (I do see where she tweeted about having "weed" in her car in the staff parking lot. Since CO legalized use, I'm not certain if it is illegal for staff to have in their personal / locked vehicle since it *is* still on school grounds?)

I don't believe anyone will think what she did was a wise move.

My debate question however is with a broader focus: Should employers be able to control your personal social media practices as a term of employment? Should this trump an individuals 1st Amendment rights to share what they wish online?

wlillie's picture
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I think if you have your profile set to private, no one shares anything you post, and aren't using the company's technology to access the media, you should be able to post anything you'd like as long as it's legal without repurcussions. I think if it's public or you have people you work with/for following you, you should expect to be held responsible for actions, posts, or pictures that shed you in a negative light.

You have the right to say whatever you want to anyone you want, but you still would be fired for saying some of the things people think you should be able to type.

I can't think of a single teacher I know who would admit out loud that they were high while grading papers, just because it's electronic doesn't negate the fact that it happened. Let alone admitting they had drugs in their car. Or putting a half naked picture on their desk.

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As a quick aside ~ in this day and age how does ANYONE, ESPECIALLY mothers not have their FB settings set to private? I was able to scroll through someones family photos for an hour the other day (and we are not friends) because she has them all public. Who DOES that in 2012? I was flabbergasted. Do people just not care about people seeing photos of their kids at the pool, or in the delivery room, or whatever?

Debate answer: No, they should not be able to control it. HOWEVER, them doing so is probably helping you, not hurting you, as things like the above prove that many people are morons and not able to navigate social media well. In such cases the company would essentially he helping the employer retain their job. If they Don't control it, of course, the employee suffers the consequences when they venture off the reservation (so to speak) with what they post.

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I think my employer has the right to have me agree to certain policies. Right now, in my position I cannot access facebook, twitter etc....on work computers unless I am working on our company social media. I cannot be facebook friends with someone I directly report to. I cannot say where I work and put my opinion out there without prefacing it that it is my opinion (like I have done here). I would expect school systems to have something similar.

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Wanted to address the having legal drugs on campus.

In CA, just because it is legal doesn't mean it is legal to have on school grounds including the parking lot. *Most* of the teacerhs/staff who I know smoke park of campus and stand on the sidewalk or drive around the block during lunch.

Now, in her case, that's what will do her in. They don't have cause to fire her for other legal activities as long as it doesn't interfere with her ability to do her job (as is the case in the previous debate).

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Wait...can you clarify? Smoke as in cigarettes or in pot?

I'm not sure I'm on board with recreational pot use during work hours.

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Yeah, it's legal to drink in all 50 states, but it's still not acceptable to do so during a break at work.

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"Jessica80" wrote:

Wait...can you clarify? Smoke as in cigarettes or in pot?

I'm not sure I'm on board with recreational pot use during work hours.

Cigarettes.

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Yeah, it's legal to drink in all 50 states, but it's still not acceptable to do so during a break at work.

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"ethanwinfield" wrote:

Cigarettes.

haha okay. Then we're cool.

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She went to far.