While looking around the Internet I came across this article about a school reprimanding a student for a critical Tweet the student made about Gov. Brownback while he visited and spoke to the students.
Emma Sullivan, sitting in the back of the assembly hall, jokingly tweeted during Brownback’s speech that Brownback’s professional performance left much to be desired , “Just made mean comments at Gov. Brownback and told him he sucked, in person (hash) heblowsalot” according to the article. While Sullivan did not say this directly to Gov. Brownback, the school took the remark seriously even demanding that Sullivan apologize to Gov. Brownback. Even though the school is against her, Sullivan’s more than 9,000 followers and Sullivan’s mother are behind her in support according to the article.
While her mother stands by her daughter’s right to express her opinion, Sullivan’s mother does concede that her daughter’s tweet could have used different language to get her point across. The whole issue like so many before with new mediums questions the right of free speech in a new and unfamiliar medium: social media. As politically-oriented speech, it is protected under the First Amendment and is not subject to regulation, but what happens when this opinion is expressed in a new media such as social media?
If Sullivan is within her right to express her dissatisfaction with Gov. Brownback, would she still be allowed to Tweet her dissatisfaction if the target were a teacher? To what extent is that fine line?
The First Amendment protects Sullivan’s right to free speech including criticizing politicians without consequence. However, I doubt the Forefathers foresaw issues with free speech expressed in mediums like Twitter, Facebook or other social media outlets. So, to what extent does social media require regulation if at all? This article from Randall Craig’s blog: http://bit.ly/uBNhKg examines the arguments for and against social media regulation. One main argument against regulating social media is the recent phenomenon known as the Arab Spring where social media outlets were instrumental to these rebellions in Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt and Libya. Craig reports that proponents of social media regulation argue that the government already monitors cell phones and email activity so why should we care about social media regulation?
To this, I argue that this idea is a slippery slope and one that all too soon we will find ourselves falling downward without any means to stop. Social media is a relatively new media outlet and understandably it will take some time to establish the proper etiquette and self-regulation without government. In order for social media to continue as a viable media outlet, we as journalist must adhere to the standards and ethics that have guided our profession for years and stay true to the values we each hold as professional journalists. interference.
However, the question remains, should there be regulations for social media? Is it a big deal to let the government monitor one more medium or does social media provide the necessary tools and opportunities for the oppressed to rise up and rebel as a country and an individual like Emma Sullivan.
Tell me what you think and leave a comment! Read the rest of the article for yourself!
P.S. As an update, instead of Sullivan apologizing to Gov. Brownback, the governor actually is the one issuing the apology! Read the full article: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-57332320-503544/brownback-apologizes-after-twitter-dust-up/