Two alarming news items this week, both concerning Social Media.
First, the announcement that a new law has been passed in Missouri, making it illegal for teachers to communicate with students on social media sites. That was the headline, but it seems that the ban only covers some aspects of Social Media like messages and not other, more public places like Facebook walls.
While I am all in favour of protecting schoolchildren from harm, this appears to be another glaring example of nanny government rushing through legislation because of a few isolated incidents. My recent post discusses this.
In one of the reports, a teacher was quoted as saying that some Social Media sites are now the preferred medium for student to teacher communication. It makes sense when you think about it.
I am sure that teachers would not want to be continually disturbed during off duty hours by students’ phone calls. Leaving messages on twitter or requesting information via Facebook seems like a sensible system convenient for both parties.
The same teacher also mentioned that some students could be embarrassed to ask for help publicly so the use of private messages would ensure confidentiality.
Is there a law in Missouri or anywhere else,that prevents teachers or other education authorities mailing correspondence to students? Or talking to them by telephone?
Most states and countries have adequate laws to investigate people suspected of exploiting children for what ever purpose and then to prosecute them if sufficient evidence has been found.
Unfortunately, there are a small minority of bad people who will use any and every means to continue their criminal activities. This seems like another case of throwing the baby out with the bath water. Reduce the effectiveness of a new technology and make a lot of people’s lives more difficult just in case a few bad apples exploit it. Tougher gun laws greatly inconvenience law-abiding citizens without having much effect on criminals.
Then there is the point that perhaps some teachers need protecting from their students. Have the law makers thought about that? What about the teacher who has children with Facebook accounts? Must the teacher cancel his or her account?
It’s time for more common sense to prevail and for teachers, parents and students to take responsibility for their own actions.
The second story has even greater implications for all of us.
It seems that it will not be long before technology will get to the point that a scam artist could take a photograph of us in the street with his smart phone and then use facial recognition software to find our identity by matching it to our profile pictures.
Apparently, from there it is not too difficult to get our address, telephone and identification numbers. That is frightening.
What is more frightening is the potential control this could give to big government, once your picture is on record, the software and hardware in
place, theoretically if you voted the wrong way at an election, you could be prevented from doing just about anything. No gas, no shopping, no entertainment.
I know, every one thinks it could never happen. It’s time for every one to wake up and recognise that technology is meant to improve our lives, not make it easier for new laws to control us and erode our freedom.
Wishing you success in all your endeavours.