Many people, young and old, rely on social media for day to day interactions with loved ones and even strangers. Facebook and Twitter have become micro journals, making thoughts open to share with friends and followers. Many workplaces limit what employees can post. Questions arise. Should family courts rely on statements a family member makes online to decide the outcome of custody? Are the pictures you post on Snapchat really gone? There are cases in family court where pictures from Facebook have been used in evidence. In the Cincinnati area, students have even been expelled for social media posts.
The Ohio Court of Appeals recently heard Langdon v. Ohio Dept. of Educ. (Ohio App. 12 Dist.) regarding the revocation of a teacher’s license. Within the opinion, the court wrestles with the idea of conduct which may be unbecoming of a teacher. What is interesting within the opinion was the use of the teacher’s social media as evidence of her poor conduct. The posts included inappropriate comments about students and colleagues. This begs the question, as technology and society evolve and social media becomes a driving force in communication, what rules do courts have to rely on to enforce different laws?
The trend will certainly bring questions about free speech rights and due process of the law. Is that fair or should we follow the old adage, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”?
Written by Stephanie L. Brockman, 3L part-time with Chase College of Law.