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Missouri Says “No Friends For You!” To Teachers

As a father I have often wondered about social media students and teachers. I have assurances from my Facebook using child that just the idea of being friends on Facebook with a teacher is weird. A good sign in my opinion but at least one state doesn’t trust their citizens as a whole to come to the same conclusion.

In fact, to safeguard against any social media misdoings between students and teachers, Missouri has enacted a law saying that a social media relationship between teacher and student is illegal.

msnbc reports

Missouri has passed a law making it illegal for state teachers to friend their students on Facebook.

Governor Jay Nixon signed Missouri State Bill 54, which bans students and teachers from communicating and being “friends” on the social networking site. The law was created to prevent inappropriate relationships between children and teachers.

“Teachers cannot establish, maintain or use a work-related website unless it is available to school administrators and the child’s legal custodian, physical custodian or legal guardian,” the law states. “Teachers also cannot have a non work-related website that allows exclusive access with a current or former student.”

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This kind of restriction is the kind that will draw fire from every side of the freedom of speech argument. Here is the reaction from one teacher in Missouri as reported by the Kansas City Star

Randy Turner, an eighth-grade English teacher and prominent blogger from Joplin, Mo., said teachers communicate with students through internet sites because that’s the venue students are most comfortable using.

“Right now, Facebook is the way they communicate,” Turner said of his students.

Sometimes those communications might be public posts about class work or clubs, he said, but other times students may have specific questions about homework, grades or problems with other students — issues better suited to a private conversation.

“If you have a student who’s having a problem in a particular class, they don’t want to tell the whole world they’re having a problem,” Turner explained.

Turner, who frequently writes about education issues on his blog, accused the legislation of “targeting classroom teachers.”

In practice, he said, the bill probably would confuse teachers about what is and isn’t allowable online conduct and stifle legitimate and valuable conversations with students.

As for me, I am not a big supporter of laws intended to enforce what I see as a common sense issue but, at the same time, we live in very different times than just a mere 10 years ago.

Where do you stand on the idea of having the government legislate matters such as these? How could rulings like this impact the use of social media for marketers? Is there the possibility that marketing itself could be deemed as an inappropriate contact with certain groups?