How “free” is our speech on social media? Over 1 billion people hold a Facebook account, but can what you say on your own social media pages be held against you, and if so how and why?
Students use Facebook to convey a lot of feelings, good and bad, but will what they say affect them in the future? News investigations have shown employers are in fact checking in on applicants and employees pages and either denying employment to applicants, or taking disciplinary action against current employees.
When the constitution was written, obviously social media didn’t exist, but now with the invention of social media, your free speech could have serious repercussions. The question people are struggling with is whether or not it’s fair to be judged based on what you say through your personal social media accounts.
Students don’t feel like they should have to censor themselves in today’s society, but it’s looking more and more like that’s exactly what they should be doing, if for nothing more then for their future. Perhaps it’s only safe to post pictures of your food and pets, and status updates about ordinary life.
Websites like Twitter and Facebook let users post whatever, whenever they want with absolutely no filters. Some students take the cautionary route regardless and depending on their major refuse to take pictures with drinks in their hands, or be tagged in pictures from parties. Students question whether or not they should have to be cautious in the first place, and ask why they can’t freely live their lives privately without it interfering with their professional lives.
Many would argue that if your privacy settings are set appropriately it shouldn’t matter what you post on social media. Facebook in particular allows you to be selective as to exactly who can see each post you make. As well as the ability to individually block other users altogether.
Jillian Brown, an Assistant Manager at a local restaurant, and senior English major at SFA said “employees in this store negatively affected by comments they’ve posted on their own wall about other employees or their manager or even just the store in general. Employees’ opinions and their personal lives are their own and what they put on their Facebook wall shouldn’t be able to compromise their job.”
Official written warnings as well as immediate, no-questions-asked termination are becoming very real fears and threats to a person’s employment. Not only do these consequences apply in the professional atmosphere, but even now at minimum wage jobs.
Employers don’t bear in mind that they too were once in college and should be understanding of the social and political pressures to explore one’s own beliefs and values, along with the desire to express them accordingly. College is typically the time in a young adult’s life when they break away from the beliefs they followed primarily based on their family’s values as a whole. From there they begin to educate and inform themselves so they can hold values and beliefs that they truly understand and firmly feel strongly about. And with this exploration of self comes the desire to share, which is now being examined under close scrutiny.
For a chosen few of us, primarily those in journalism will likely get paid to be opinionated and informed, but is it truly fair that those in a vastly different career field must suppress their voice for the sake of maintaining their employment?
Destiny Walters, a freshman Early Childhood Education major at SFA says “you should be able to say what you want, but if you’re friends with your coworkers [on social media] you should know they’re going to say something.”
Twitter has a government archive of every tweet ever posted on the site since its creation. Which is accessible to anyone with time and desire to search for anything they choose.
Social networks have navigated away from being fun and harmless to a seriously dangerous grey area for anyone to hold other both liable and accountable for nearly everything they say, whether it be positive or negative.
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