UPDATE: Missouri’s “Facebook Law” Gets It All Wrong

Original Update (Sept. 5, 2011): Since last month, the Missouri law blocking social networking has come under scrutiny by the Missouri courts as well as the state’s governor.

First, a state judge blocked enforcement of the law with an injunction, calling the law a “staggering” overreach by the legislature. Then the governor piled on, declaring that social media are a useful tool and calling for the law’s repeal. A very good sign, indeed as people take a minute to reflect on the changing nature of communication in this digital age. We need to protect kids, but just sitting down a means of connecting with teachers is no way to do it. This points to another post of mine about the folly of enacting laws to correct a single failure of the legal system. We will never catch and prosecute every criminal or wrong-doer. If every time something bad happened we drafted a new law we would have no one left but a few shut-ins. Legislatures need to weild their drafting pens judiciously or they risk losing the confidence of the people they are trying to protect.

As a wise man once said, knee jerk laws written after one person got away with something they shouldn’t have rarely achieve the intended results and often crate even more problems as a result.  Missouri’s new social media law is just such a mistake.

Rather than rehash all of the details, take a look at this piece today from Huffington Post.  It’s really rather infuriating that the law so clearly ignores all of the benefits from social media and other communication between teachers and students.  And, stop me if I’m wrong, but isn’t communicating on a Facebook wall publicly available?  I guess if they are sending private messages, but then just make sure the administrators have the account password.  Is a law really necessary?  Can’t schools regulate this themselves?

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About Justin Kwong

An attorney in the Twin Cities and adjunct professor at William Mitchell College of Law where I teach a seminar on the law of virtual worlds.
This entry was posted in Legal Developments, Legislation, Rights and Civil Liberties, Social Networks, Virtual Worlds and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to UPDATE: Missouri’s “Facebook Law” Gets It All Wrong

  1. This needs to be said…

    Republican State Sen. Jane Cunningham is an idiot

    (that was as nicest thing I could say it with all of the seething bile and hatred building)

    Now, I fully admit that I could be missing the point of this law, and I would be interested in reading through it (if I didn’t have a stack of work staring at me). Justin, do you have any additional information on the law, thoughts or issues?

  2. Pingback: UPDATE 2: Missouri Senate Votes to Repeal Teacher Facebook Friend Ban | Virtual Navigator

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