Court Rules That Student’s Facebook Messages are Protected Under First and Fourth Amendments

Earlier this month, a U.S. District Court in Minnesota ruled that a student’s online privacy is protected under the first and fourth amendments, and any school officials who require the disclosure of a student’s password is violating their privacy rights. The case concerns a 12-year-old in Minnesota who wrote negative remarks about an employee at her school on her Facebook page. She was disciplined by the school for her posts, and the school forced her to hand over the passwords to her Facebook and personal email pages.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the court ruled that statements made away from school “are protected under the First Amendment and not punishable by school authorities unless they are true threats or are reasonably calculated to reach the school environment and are so egregious as to pose a serious safety risk or other substantial disruption in that environment.”

The ruling has been hailed by experts as a promising first step in guaranteeing privacy rights for online content.

“Public schools that require any of their students to register their social media usernames, or to provide access to their password protected digital content via required Facebook Friending or the installation of a third-party software application for any reason are in clear violation of the 1st and 4th Amendment,” wrote Bradley Shear, an attorney who has helped states deal with issues of privacy and social media.

What do you think about schools demanding access to their student’s online lives? What can people do to properly protest this infringement?

Recommended Resources

Do Not Track + is a FREE browser plugin created by Abine. This easy to install plugin keeps websites from tracking you. If you value your online privacy, then you should definitely take advantage of this free product.

BitDefender Safego is a Facebook application you can install that will scan your News Feed and help keep you safe from scams on Facebook.

PRIVATE WiFi® is a Personal VPN that encrypts everything you send and receive. Don’t access Facebook from a public WiFi hotspot without it.

Action Alert | Free Parental Control offers a 100% free Internet safety solution designed for parents. There is also a Maximum Protection option for parents that need a more advanced set of tools.

Tyler Perry Cancels Tour Because of Fake Facebook Profiles, Online Bootleggers Previous post Tyler Perry Cancels Tour Because of Fake Facebook Profiles, Online Bootleggers Facebook Launches New “Shared Activity” Plugin Next post Facebook Launches New “Shared Activity” Plugin