Quick Updates: Tweet Yourself Out of High School, Congressman Thinks Twitter is Private, and Pinterest Founder Deletes His Board

A few quick social media stories today.

High School is always an interesting time for teenagers and it looks like social media is making it a bit more complicated.  Or at least in Garrett, Indiana where student Austin Carroll was expelled for dropping the f-bomb in a tweet.  Admittedly, he did drop it five times, which takes some effort if you ask me.  The tweet was sent from Carroll’s own computer and not during school time.  The school district monitors all social media activity and saw the tweet the following morning, so he was expelled.  This seems like a rather harsh penalty, expulsion rather than detention or suspension.  Forbes has a decent overview on why it may be appropriate for a school to monitor its students’ social media activity (bullying, threats of violence, etc.) but that still doesn’t resolve the punishment issue.  It sounds like the student may have already had a history of issues with the administration because this seems like overkill for a first offense.  But as bloggers like Tecca point out, you shouldn’t really expect things you post online to be private.

Congressman Ed Perlmutter

"Twitter is totally private. That's why nobody follows me, right? Right?"

But I guess Congressman Ed Perlmutter (Democrat, Colorado) doesn’t read Tecca.  He recently introduced an amendment in the US House of Representatives that would allow the FCC to create a rule preventing employers from asking for social media passwords from applicants.  He posted the following on his website concerning the bill:

People have an expectation of privacy when using social media like Facebook and Twitter.  They have an expectation that their right to free speech and religion will be respected when they use social media outlets.  No American should have to provide their confidential personal passwords as a condition of employment. Both users of social media and those who correspond share the expectation of privacy in their personal communications.  Employers essentially can act as imposters and assume the identity of an employee and continually access, monitor and even manipulate an employee’s personal social activities and opinions.  That’s simply a step too far.

So at least one Representative thinks there is an expectation of privacy on social media, even on Twitter.  Whatever that means.  But the bill was voted down along party lines (only one Republican voted for the bill).

Copyright violations on social media isn’t a new subject but Pinterest has certainly elevated the discussion.  In the wake of adopting new terms, Pinterest founder Ben Silbermann took down his board.  No surprise, it was one of the most popular boards with millions of followers and over 4,000 pins.  The takedown was quiet and the board  is slowly being recreated (with highly vetted material, I’m guessing).  This issue is far from over and I’m glad someone is forcing us to come to terms with it.  Facebook and others made it easy to share copyrighted material, but it was even easier to post your own content so the discussion was muddied.  With Pinterest it’s actually easier to post someone else’s content than to upload your own (for most users, anyway).  Pinterest’s explosive popularity is bringing copyright in the social age to the forefront and we’ll continue to see this story develop over the years ahead.



Filed under Consumer Protection, Copyright, Employment, Laws, Pinterest, Privacy, Quick Updates, Social Tracking, Terms and Conditions, Twitter

4 responses to “Quick Updates: Tweet Yourself Out of High School, Congressman Thinks Twitter is Private, and Pinterest Founder Deletes His Board

  1. Amy Heiss

    I guess I can see how Twitter DMs are private and that may have been what he was referring to. I don’t get why it is a partisan issue, though. Why would republicans think it is ok to violate someone’s privacy?

  2. I doubt it was anything more than the parties refusing to work together. But who knows? Is anything non-partisan these days?

  3. I wonder if there should be an analog in the school case to what we do in business regarding background checks and general social monitoring. Providing some sort of chinese wall between the listeners and those taking action could prevent this sort of heavy handed response. Why is his conduct on Twitter different than his conduct at the local HEB? Would the school have expelled him for dropping five F-bombs while checking out with the mondo bulk purchase of twinkies. That being said, things like bullying, violent threats, etc, are clearly within the purview of the school system to ensure a fair and open learning environment. What happens when the teacher gives you a C instead of that B+ because of your views on whatever hot button policy issue. We have all learned in business what is in bounds and not in bounds (well, with much help from the courts, mind you), perhaps schools need to learn. Narrowly tailored to further a legitimate government purpose comes to mind, doesn’t it?

    • Good points, all. And also why I have a hard time thinking this is the whole story–it sounds more like the student had previous run-ins and this was a final straw.

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