Fac eboo k & My Spa ce

Understanding the Issues

What is F acebook & MyS pace?
 Social networking websites providing interactive:
     Blogs User profiles Groups Photos Internal email capability

MyS pace
 Started as a home to various bands trying to attract attention. Now many celebrities and musicians have pages.  Purchased by Rupert Murdoch for $580 million.  Anyone over 14 may register for an account.  You do not need an account to browse profiles.

MyS pace – Wh at i s the big deal?
 MySpace has 95 million registered users. 500,000 new members are registering each day. 78% are over 18 years of age.  MySpace is the world’s 4th most popular English language website and the 8th most popular in the world.

 Founded by three Harvard students in 2004 as a replacement for the traditional “facebook.”  Initially, facebook required an .edu email address. Recently, it expanded to other organizations.

 Users can create profiles and upload pictures.  Users can search for “friends” by favorite music, residence, high school, etc.  Users can create groups for others to join.  Requires an account to access.

Facebook – Wh at’s th e big deal?
 Facebook is the 7th most visited site on the internet.  Approximately 85% of students at supported colleges have accounts.  60% of students log onto their account daily.

Th e Ba d . . .

Th e Ba d . . .

Th e Ba d . . .

What can we d o?
 First Amendment Issues
 Three cases form the basis of review when evaluating student speech.  There is no direct law involving facebook & myspace, but these cases have been used to evaluate personal websites.

What can we d o?
 Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District
 Schools may regulate speech:
 When the speech “materially & substantially interferes with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school.”
 “unqualified fear of disruption” does not meet the material interference standard.

What can we d o?
 Tinker con’d:
 May regulate speech that interferes with “the rights of other students to be secure and left alone.”

Bethel School District v. Fraser:
 Schools may prohibit offensive language that undermines the “basic educational mission” of the school at school events.

What can we d o?
 Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeir:
 Schools may regulate student sponsored publications as long as the regulations relate to “legitimate pedagogical concerns.”

 Problems with Tinker, Bethel, & Hazelwood.

What can we d o?
 J.S. v. Bethlehem Area School District
 Court found that school district has not violated student’s 1st Amendment rights when they expelled him for creating a website called “Teacher Sux.” The website contained threats against the teacher, a picture of the teacher with “her head cut off, blood dripping from her neck, and her face morphing into Hitler’s face.”

What can we d o?
 Evaluate content of site  Use issues as a “teachable moment.”

What sh ould we do?
 Do we have a duty to review Facebook/MySpace accounts?  What if we want to review Facebook/MySpace accounts?  Do we need to inform students that we may view their account?

Quest io ns/C omm ents
Angi Smith Director, Office of Student Judicial Affairs University of Tennessee 409 Student Services Building Knoxville, TN 37996 865.974.3171 asmith@utk.edu

Dis cl ai mer : Th is pres ent ation i s in fo rma tio na l o nly an d i s n ot m ea nt to serve as l eg al ad vice . P le as e co nta ct y our Gen er al Coun sel or Attor ney fo r l ega l a dv ice.