Earlier this month, after publishing an anti-Semitic post on Instagram, Gina Carano of The Mandalorian became the latest Disney star to be fired for controversial social media posts.
President Biden’s nominee to run the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, faces an uphill challenge for senate confirmation as a result of her previous harsh tweets about Republicans.
Kimberly Diei, a second-year doctoral student at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Pharmacy, was expelled for engaging in social media activities that violated “the Memphis health science center’s “professional standards” for students studying health and medicine.” Ms. Diei has since been reinstated but is suing the university arguing that the college’s enforcement of its professionalism policies violated her right to free speech in her private life.
These are only a few of the most recent examples of how our personal social media activities can interfere with and even derail scholarship, college, and career opportunities.
Also in the news earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of a Pennsylvania public high school student who was punished by her school after she cursed her cheer team on Snapchat outside of school hours and grounds. The Supreme Court’s decision will hopefully provide needed guidance on student free speech rights on social media, and if public schools are constitutionally within their rights to punish student speech that takes place outside of school hours and grounds.
Regardless of whether any first amendment protections will ultimately apply, these cases present a teachable moment for demonstrating the importance of responsible and fully informed social media use. While we all have the right to publicly post just about any thought that comes into our heads, that right has never guaranteed such personal speech to be consequence-free.
The dichotomy between personal versus professional information no longer has any true significance in the world of social media. Each one of us has every opportunity to keep our personal thoughts, beliefs, and experiences private and off the public record by simply choosing not to post them to social media. Once posted, however, building a fence around what is personal versus what is professional is virtually impossible. Therefore, whether the posting is professional, biographical, political, religious, familial, sexual, sophomoric, or intellectual in nature, by voluntarily placing it in the public domain via social media, we are sharing that information…