Internet Expression in Jeopardy: MySpace Users Beware

By May 24, 2006

Reporter Wendy Leung has a great article in the San Bernardino County Sun and Ontario’s Daily Bulletin regarding the shaky legal ground that schools tread when they patrol students’ expression on websites like MySpace.com and Facebook.com. Leung writes:

Traditionally, schools do not interfere with behavior at home, but local school officials say they will act if activity from home computers causes school disruption.

Greg Lukianoff, president of Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said he has seen an upswing in free speech cases involving networking sites such as Myspace.com.

“I’ve seen a very pronounced jump in the last six months,’’ said Lukianoff. “There’s also been an upswing in the number of seminars for administrators terrified over the forum that Myspace presents.’’

It was just such a fear that led University of Central Florida administrators to charge a student with harassment for calling a student government candidate a “jerk and a fool” on Facebook.com. FIRE’s intervention sealed a not-guilty decision in that case, but we expect to see more unconstitutional incursions into students’ online activity.

Schools: University of Central Florida