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Posted at 04:01 PM ET, 08/11/2011

Teachers, ACLU riled over social media ban


Alana Maddock, nurse and cheerleader coach at East Middle School, Joplin, Mo, used Facebook to locate students after the tornado destroyed several schools and much of Joplin on May 22. (MIKE GULLETT - AP)
It’s that time of the day. You’re getting ready to go home, you look at the clock and it hits you: You’re nowhere near quitting time.

Social media is the subject of constant conversation. As Ramesh Srinivasan wrote for the Post on Thursday, these kinds of media are “part of a much larger matric of tools and intentions that rally masses.” In the case of London, they are merely part of a larger picture of discontent and organic connectivity that inspired and fueled people to act out in dangerous ways.

Here in the United States, social media plays a number of different roles, including as a communications mechanism for and between teachers and students. But, in Missouri, a controversial law aims to fundamentally change the nature of that interaction.

The Missouri law was created with the intention of preventing sexual abuse in schools, by making it illegal for teachers to have private conversations with students via any social media platforms. Teachers who use social media as a tool to legitimately teach their students, along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reject the law, saying it goes too far, blocking overwhelming amounts of appropriate communication in and attempt to prevent infrequent, inappropriate interactions.

“This law has caused nothing but confusion,” said Tony Rother, Legal director of the state’s ACLU chapter. “What they’re doing is proverbially taking a bazooka to a fly.”

The Post’s Dominic Basulto wrote Wednesday that the day may be coming where actions that restrict free speech and the free exchange of information could, collectively, be considered a downgrading of the Internet:

One day, we may find ourselves pining for the “good old days” when bandwidth was cheap if not free, the heavy hand of the government was nowhere in sight, and we still held tightly to the illusion that our personal privacy was sacrosanct.

— But what do you think? Does the Missouri law go too far? Or are restraints like this an appropriate step to take in order to protect young people online?

Read more on Innovations:

London, Egypt and the nature of social media

Is the internet downgrade, next?

How Uncle Sam holds back innovation

By  |  04:01 PM ET, 08/11/2011

 
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