“Facebook posts are constitutionally protected speech”
A federal magistrate in the US today ruled that a Facebook posts falls under the First Amendment, which provides for free speech. The matter came up after a student, Katherine Evans, was suspended for three days from her school for creating a Facebook page where she vented about the worst teacher she has ever met.
Evans filed suit against the principal, asking that the suspension be ruled unconstitutional and reversed, that the documents be removed from her file at the school and that she receive reimbursement for attorney fees.
Howard Simon, the executive director of the Florida ACLU, which filed the suit on Evans' behalf said:
It's one of the main things that we wanted to establish in this case, that the First Amendment has a life in the social networking technology as it applies to the Internet and other forms of communication.
While the suit is far from resolved, legal experts say it is an important case. Sam Terilli, a media law and ethics professor at the University of Miami said:
I think there has been too great a tendency in recent years for public school officials to sort of reach beyond the classroom, reach beyond the school campus very often to try to regulate or punish free speech by students in the name of protecting order. While we can all understand that, post-Columbine, there are limits.
If a student is using or any other medium to threaten or even imply threats of violence, that's a different matter.
[via Miami Herald]