The First Amendment of Social Media: Freedom of Tweet

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of expression from government interference. While it is within our right to say what we think without fear of prosecution from our Government, freedom of expression in social networks however, is something altogether different. In the court of public opinion, your words can and will be used against you. But what works against us, also works for us.

While the egosystem is seemingly rife with unintelligible chatter, it is, in and of itself, revealing a new direction for our culture and society.  In this brave new world of altruism and self actualization, the lines that divide offline and online personae and experiences blur into one real-time, real world lifeway. Indeed, the impact of social and mobile technology is profound. As a result, human behavior has diverted towards a very public genre of expression, discovery, and extroversion, and packaged in brevity and frequency.

We are beguiled by this new found freedom of speech, sharing a communal desire to find our voice, protected by a false sense of security. The statusphere and blogsphere are rich with perpetual observations and declarations, but we lose something in translation. While content was once king, in social media, where character and word count is precious, context ascends to the top of the ranks. In short form, context is elusive and in order to convey intent and desired outcomes, one must master the art and science of storytelling and influence. We must realize that what we think we’re saying might not convey as desired. There’s a difference between what we say and what is heard. And now with social media, intention is often eclipsed by abbreviation.

#IAmSpartacus

27-year old accountant Paul Chambers learned about context and character the hard way recently when he tested his Freedom of Tweet. In January 2010, Chambers Tweeted, “”Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!”

He was later convicted and fined. In November 2010, he lost his appeal. What was intended as a joke, in hindsight, is now vividly clear to see just how things can be taken out of context – especially on Twitter. Yes, his Tweet was in poor taste. His action was the catalyst for a national example of prudence. But, the Twitter community stood by Chambers and their Freedom of Tweet by uniting under the hashtag #IAmSpartacus upon learning his appeal was lost.  With homage to the film, Spartacus’s fellow gladiators demonstrated unanimity by declaring, “I am Spartacus.” Twitter denizens showed solidarity with Chambers by repeating his Tweet to the point of topping the Trends in Twitter for an entire day.  While many stand united on Twitter, the reality is that Chambers lost his job and still faces conviction and a significant legal bill.

Judge Jacqueline Davies said of the Tweet “It’s menacing in its content and obviously so. It could not be more clear. Any ordinary person reading this would see it in that way and be alarmed.”

Context vs. Intention

A Rude Awakening

Inner monologue and filters usually prevent us from uttering words that could haunt us or worse, harm us. Social Media erode these filters enticing us to share in public what might be better shared with discretion. Perhaps our screens shroud us in a protective light.

Either way, there is no shortage of stories where students are dismissed as candidates based on what college admissions officers discover on social networks. Accordingly, job candidates also lose opportunities without realization as HR managers discredit them based on what they share in social media. We’ve also read many stories where employees are fired for lambasting customers or  bashing management.

Our digital shadows work for and against us. When it comes to matters of education and employment, perhaps it is not wise to test our Freedom of Tweet unless it is advantageous to do so. In a groundbreaking case however, we see that the First Amendment of Social Media may in fact, officially take shape.  An employee who criticized her employer on Facebook was recently fired for doing so. Now the National Labor Relations Board accused American Media Response of illegally firing her.

According to the National Labor Board, Social Media are essentially digital water coolers. Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon expounded, “This is a fairly straightforward case under the National Labor Relations Act — whether it takes place on Facebook or at the water cooler, it was employees talking jointly about working conditions, in this case about their supervisor, and they have a right to do that.”

This landmark case will serve as precedent for the coming flood of cases to consume courts.

While common sense is uncommon, it seems that in this case, at least employees are covered even if judgment lapses. The National Labor Relations Act gives workers a federally protected right to form unions and it prohibits the punishment of workers for discussing working conditions or unionization.

This significant move by the NLB triggered a “lawflash” by Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, a law firm with a large labor and employment practice representing hundreds of companies, “Employers should review their Internet and social media policies to determine whether they are susceptible to an allegation that the policy would ‘reasonably tend to chill employees’ in the exercise of their rights to discuss wages, working conditions and unionization.”

In case you glossed over the above paragraph, it essentially says that your social media policy might open up the organization to potential complaints, suits, and liabilities.

With Social Media Comes Great Responsibility

Yes, social media is the democratization of information. We’re inspired to express ourselves and are rewarded every time we share a bit of who we are and what moves us with the recognition and validation of response and connection. But with this new voice and platform, we must also embrace a more informed era of consciousness. Now more than ever, vigilance becomes a virtue. While this so-called First Amendment of Social Media is written and tested in real time, it is up to us to say and do the things that share not only who we are, but also who we want to be personally and professionally.

I Tweet, therefore I am…protected?

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  • Jordan Parsons

    I definitely appreciate this, it makes you think long and hard before you just babble the first thing on your mind, all over the internet. The Chambers case seems very significant to me. I know many of us have been in the situation where you post something and then later say, “what was I thinking?,” but at the same time, Chambers is a grown man who should know with the day and time in which we live that joking about a bombing is just not acceptable. I also agree with what has already been stated about companies saying they back and encourage social media but then punishing, or even extinguishing employees for expressing themselves through social media avenues.

    It seems that social media could still be qualified as a ‘new thing’ and it will take time for the world to adapt and figure out the line between what’s acceptable and what’s not, if we ever figure it out.
    Jordan Parsons
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communications

  • KT

    Ok, first off I want to start with just a simple statement. I am tired of everyone using the 1st amendment as their excuse for every dumb thing they say! There I said it. Now, as far as the Paul Chambers case goes, no you cannot threaten bombing an airport in any way (have we not all seen Meet the parents?). Mr. Chambers is an adult & a professional and should know better. Anonymity went out the door with Social Media/Networks. Whatever you say can easily be traced to you via your username, real name, profile, etc. (obviously everyone has forgotten the South Park episode where the characters do a total background check on another kid via social networks). As far as the legal repercussions he is now facing, someone has to be the example. Sorry it was you Mr. Chambers.

    Yes it is a rude awakening to us all. I know as a manager I have used public court records, Facebook, MySpace, and Google for background checking potential employees. In this day and age the technology is available so I use it. People seem to forget that if you put it out there, it can be found. Again, anonymity is gone. Any thing you post on the internet is like introducing yourself to anyone that finds your stuff. And it all goes back to the “First Impression” rule, you only have one chance to make a good first impression.

    I understand the concept that you should be able to spout off and express yourself freely, but remember some simple rules before you leave your words for everyone to read. #1 If you can’t say something nice, don’t say it at all. #2 Anything you say can and will be used against you.

    Katherine Sutherland
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Arts & Sciences

  • Madison

    Yet again, another thought-provoking post!

    I like what Antonio said in his comment about maintaining our online reputations. I’ve been told that if you don’t want your boss to see the pictures on Facebook, then you probably shouldn’t do it in the first place. Social Media is becoming less personal and more professional as time goes on, so it is even more important to filter what we are posting on our sites. Brian is completely right when he says that college admission officers and Human Resource departments are screening candidates by looking at their Facebook sites. To know that I could loose a job opportunity because of a picture that was taken at a party several years ago makes me think twice about what I post and what activities I participate in.

    As far as freedom of speech in regards to social media outlets, I think we should be able to say whatever we want…BUT we have to be willing to accept the consequences when it offends someone. The discrepency between intention and context has been an issue since before the rise of Twitter and Facebook. I’ve sent many text messages to friends that have been taken the wrong way and have been taken as an insult when I really meant it as a joke. When the discrepency is between two people, the problem can be solved and forgotten about. However, when the discrepency is worldwide, a solution that can please everybody is almost impossible to find and it can tarnish one’s reputation.

    If censoring is too difficult, the best solution is to do what Antonio said in his comment, adjust privacy settings and create a professional blog and LinkedIn account to distract people from the things that your boss won’t appreciate.

    Madison Longust
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communications

  • Madison

    Yet again, another thought-provoking post!

    I like what Antonio said in his comment about maintaining our online reputations. I’ve been told that if you don’t want your boss to see the pictures on Facebook, then you probably shouldn’t do it in the first place. Social Media is becoming less personal and more professional as time goes on, so it is even more important to filter what we are posting on our sites. Brian is completely right when he says that college admission officers and Human Resource departments are screening candidates by looking at their Facebook sites. To know that I could loose a job opportunity because of a picture that was taken at a party several years ago makes me think twice about what I post and what activities I participate in.

    As far as freedom of speech in regards to social media outlets, I think we should be able to say whatever we want…BUT we have to be willing to accept the consequences when it offends someone. The discrepency between intention and context has been an issue since before the rise of Twitter and Facebook. I’ve sent many text messages to friends that have been taken the wrong way and have been taken as an insult when I really meant it as a joke. When the discrepency is between two people, the problem can be solved and forgotten about. However, when the discrepency is worldwide, a solution that can please everybody is almost impossible to find and it can tarnish one’s reputation.

    If censoring is too difficult, the best solution is to do what Antonio said in his comment, adjust privacy settings and create a professional blog and LinkedIn account to distract people from the things that your boss won’t appreciate.

    Madison Longust
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communications

  • Ltaylornixon

    Great post.

    The reaching laws are good–for the time being. Too much law is always better than lawless. However, it is such a new thing, this social media, that our legal system is not adequately equipped to handle these situations. At the time of the laws’ foundations, nothing like social media had ever been seen.

    For a totally different, new and separate reality, I believe it should be governed by a separate set of laws.

    If we took this “law” of applying something irrelevant to what we know best, we’d see things like peanut butter and turkey sandwiches, and driving with blindfolds on daily basis–if you get my drift.

    Simple and straight forward, a new reality deserves new rules.

    Thanks again for the post.

    L. Taylor Nixon
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communications
    @ltnixon

  • Ltaylornixon

    Great post.

    The reaching laws are good–for the time being. Too much law is always better than lawless. However, it is such a new thing, this social media, that our legal system is not adequately equipped to handle these situations. At the time of the laws’ foundations, nothing like social media had ever been seen.

    For a totally different, new and separate reality, I believe it should be governed by a separate set of laws.

    If we took this “law” of applying something irrelevant to what we know best, we’d see things like peanut butter and turkey sandwiches, and driving with blindfolds on daily basis–if you get my drift.

    Simple and straight forward, a new reality deserves new rules.

    Thanks again for the post.

    L. Taylor Nixon
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communications
    @ltnixon

  • Stephanie Rowe

    I like Chris’ response to social media being the digital version of a water cooler. When people talk at the water cooler, only those people who were at the water cooler actually know what was said. Unless someone tapes the conversation, it is really hard to prove who participated in the conversation and what was said. When you post something on Facebook or Twitter, just about anyone can find out what was said. It can also be printed out very easily to be used against you at a later date.

    I would like to think that nothing that I post on a social media site can be used against me, but in reality, I know that isn’t true. I always try to be careful about what I post because I don’t want something that took two seconds to post to haunt me for the rest of my life. I haven’t seen people lose their job over posting something inappropriate about their boss or the company, but I have seen them written up for it, and I agree with them being written up for it. Take responsibility for what you post on social media sites.

    Stephanie Rowe
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communications

  • Stephanie Rowe

    I like Chris’ response to social media being the digital version of a water cooler. When people talk at the water cooler, only those people who were at the water cooler actually know what was said. Unless someone tapes the conversation, it is really hard to prove who participated in the conversation and what was said. When you post something on Facebook or Twitter, just about anyone can find out what was said. It can also be printed out very easily to be used against you at a later date.

    I would like to think that nothing that I post on a social media site can be used against me, but in reality, I know that isn’t true. I always try to be careful about what I post because I don’t want something that took two seconds to post to haunt me for the rest of my life. I haven’t seen people lose their job over posting something inappropriate about their boss or the company, but I have seen them written up for it, and I agree with them being written up for it. Take responsibility for what you post on social media sites.

    Stephanie Rowe
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communications

  • Rylie

    After reading this, I thought about what I posted on another article about why I keep up with Facebook. But after reading this I’ve decided that after I graduate college, the best approach would probably be to delete my Facebook. I have a Twitter account but I rarely ever post anything personal on there. I would hate to lose a job or not be offered a certain job because of something that I did years ago when I was younger and clearly had no idea what I was doing. Facebook is definitely taking a turn in a more professional direction. I’d love to be a part of it in terms of working for a company and using the social media for business purposes only. But personally, I don’t think it’s necessary. If anything, it’s dangerous and not something I want to be caught up in. In a sense, it’s sad that it’s come to this, but it has. I think we all knew from the start that the internet held no privacy whether you click the “private” button on your blog or not, someone will find it and see it. They have specialists that do that.

    Rylie Burns
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communications

  • Paige Pantlik

    I have seen many people have jobs and scholarships taken away from them due to what they have posted on facebook and twitter. I personally don’t want people to know everything about me from facebook or twitter, I think it sometimes looks desperate and that somehow your status update is a depiction of the person you are. I think that having the intelligence to keep your profile private and monitor what is being tagged of you, it shows more of the person you are.
    On my facebook account, if your aren’t my friend you can’t see anything and if you are my friend you can only see certain photo albums and you can’t see my tagged pictures. Even though I am not worried about inappropriate content, I don’t want to risk anything, especially my credibiltiy because you can’t earn that back.

    Paige Pantlik
    Oklahoma State University
    Strategic Communications

  • Joshua Coffman

    Why Can’t you say bomb on an airplane? Bomb, Bomb, Bomb!

    Haha but seriously great points made in this article. Yes I believe that the web is the ultimate forum but its also has been the sewage plant for the world to spill out a lot of garbage. What happened to Chambers is unfortunate and his prosecution makes the whole situation seem that much more ridiculous. Still people need to be careful about what they say on the web. A screen and a wireless connection doesn’t insulate someone completely from the law of the land or public criticism. Hopefully though what happened to Chambers won’t happen again.
    I know people who have not been hired and one that has been fired because of social media. The angriest of course was the guy I know that was fired because of his online criticisms of the company he worked for and in my opinion rightly so. He’s my friend but he should have known better. Anything that you put on the web can and will be used against you by employers.

    Joshua Coffman
    Strategic Communications
    Oklahoma State University

  • Sarah King

    Although we have a freedom to say what we want on social network sites, we are still responsible for the things we post. It may be that things such as yelling fire in a theatre are against social norms in a sense, and we know employers look at our sites and though it may seem a wrong for them to raise concers what we post as public material even to other employees is public to everyone. Is firing for a comment to much? yes, and I doubt many people took Chambers tweet as a threat however if you saw something about someone wanting to gun down someone or blow something up especailly today with an airport, somethings are better left unsaid.

    Sarah King
    Oklahoma State University
    Strategic Communications

  • Greta Gray

    Greta Gray
    Strategic Communications
    Oklahoma State University

    This was a great post and it’s definately something that we have to think about as users of social media. Sometimes it seems as though the issue of privacy in social media is blown out of proportion, but obviously it is something that can come back to bite us if we’re not careful about what we say. The question is, where is the line drawn between just opinion and saying so much that it affects you negatively?

    I personally regulate what I tweet because I have followers that could someday be employers, references or connections. I also “cleaned up” my Facebook when a possible employer asked me to add him on Facebook. It is hard to seperate my “professional self” from my “actual self”, but I don’t think that anything I’ve ever tweeted could affect me legally. I have thought about the fact that as a christian, I do often post faith related things, and I wonder if that would cause other people to form opinions about me, and if that would hurt me in my job search.
    It’s unfortunate that I even have to think of those things, but it’s just a part of life now.

    I understand that companies want to know what their employees’ online presence is, but just because we have social media now, I think that employees deserve to have a private life. Employers need to respect that boundary and employees shouldn’t feel that they have to tip toe around in fear of losing their job.

    I love what Dave said (“If we consign ourselves to always hiding our true feelings and creeping around in the dead of night to bury our passions and convictions, we don’t deserve the freedoms so many have fought and died for.”) and I think that we should be able to give our true opinions.

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      Greta, I have to say, that I do love this comment. What you express here is what we all, regardless of stature in society, need to embrace. But what works against us, also works for us…

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  • Lauren K

    You bring up important issues in this article that everyone should be aware of so cheers to you! I learned in a social media class lecture that in a sense “you are what you tweet.” Whether posting a new tweet or adding new pictures to Facebook and Flickr, the information you choose to put online does and will reflect your personal brand. This is especially important if you are following future employers and job connections. It is safe to say that we always try to make good impressions on others and the reality of it is in the online world you can easily kill your credibility to others by posting a simple tweet without thinking “could this hurt me in the long run?”
    In regards to Greta’s post, I agree that people in the work world should have the right to a private life in social media, however when employees talk negatively about their respective company and fellow employers I think it is totally appropriate for the company to get involved. Not only does it look poorly on the person saying negative things, it reflects the company as well.

    Lauren Kempf
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Strategic Communications
    @laurenkempf

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      Lauren, first of all, thank you. What a thoughtful comment. Second, you have a great mentor…

      This post is honestly more important to our society than it receives credit and it’s something we must embody and also spread to others. I think it requires more of us than them.

  • Anna Smith

    Historically the First Amendment is a right, but not an absolute one. People are held reliable for what they say, and if it causes harm in varying degrees, it is punishable by law. Just as it is punishable, it is also protected. It’s very interesting how the law regarding social media and the internet in general is building in present time. Legal cases revolving around Web site comments and postings are becoming common, a threat to users to realize that there is no anonymity anymore. The case regarding the woman being fired from denouncing the company on Facebook is a classic example of the chilling effect. For those who don’t know, this is when a social group is silenced due to fear of punishment. This is detrimental to society because it stops the free flow of ideas, and allows wrong-doers to remain in control. That woman had the right to voice her opinion. If she disliked her job so much, maybe it was better for herself and the company for her to be released, but that is neither her nor there. The classic rule keeps circling in my head: just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Just listen to that little voice in your head when posting content online, it most likely will keep you out of trouble.

    Anna Smith
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Strategic Communications
    @MissAnnaLynn

  • Michael Dozzi

    It was crazy to see the consequences a single tweet has the potential to lead to. I had no idea that action like that would be taken after an innocent tweet. It makes sense as to why Chambers’ tweet would have those consequences; however, who knew you should really ‘watch what you tweet.’ I now feel the need to be more aware of what I tweet and how it could be read.

    Yes, I do believe we should maintain the right to say whatever we want. But I guess, unlike Chambers, we better be ready for what’s to come if that tweet is taken the wrong way. Think before you tweet is my new motto. The tricky thing about text is that you often can’t tell the context of manner of how something is being sad. There is no sarcasm, sad, happy, angry or even ‘joking’ font; therefore, our text can be read in many ways because you can’t hear it being said by the person saying it. This is exactly where the problem lies, and I’m sure Chambers’ wished there would have been a ‘joking’ font that day of his ‘mis-tweet.’

    Back to the real issue at hand, how to maintain professionalism in the social media world. This is something me and a lot of my friends have to deal with right now. It’s about that time where we are starting to apply for jobs and have to make sure we are looking like good candidates both in person and online. It’s important that we either adjust the privacy settings or keep such sites as Facebook ‘clean’ and appealing to potential employers. Your article simply reminded me of how important this is! Thank you!

    Michael Dozzi
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communications

  • Samantha Wilson

    This was such a great post to read. Often, I’ve found myself wondering why people post so many absurd things on social media sites. People will judge others based off what they put on Facebook and Twitter, a fact many seem to ignore. Chambers provides the perfect example for this. He tweeted that to be funny, but it was stupid to tweet it in the first place. Yes, we have the freedom of speech, but that doesn’t mean you can go around threatening to blow up an airport, even if it’s meant as a joke.

    I’m very careful with what I put on Facebook and Twitter because of future job opportunities. I want to be seen as a professional person, not some silly college kid. I don’t want employers to not pick me for a job based off my Facebook status. I can understand that both Facebook and Twitter allow people the space to rant. At the same time I don’t understand why they would broadcast something inappropriate about their employers or friends on a site where anyone can read it. If they really wanted to say something bad about an employee in the first place, why would they bother adding them as a friend? Also, why don’t people set up the proper privacy settings so that certain people can’t read certain things? It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the cases pertaining to this problem, but people need to think before they hit the update button.

    Samantha Wilson
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communications

  • Chelsea McGuire

    Thanks so much for this post.
    It is a sign of the times and definitely something that the U.S. Supreme Court will have to look into in the near future. There is already an act (The Communication Decency Act) that protects Twitter and Facebook from libel lawsuits based on user-generated content.
    I am 24 and I learned the hard way that things in writing can be taken many ways (sometimes far from what you intended) and that once you say things on the internet, it is out in the open on the internet. I remember getting in fights with friends in high school about things said on AIM and YIM that were taken wrong. I also remember friends posting blogs on Xanga and LiveJournal about their bosses and they were soon fired for their comments. I think with the way social media has grown we have had to learn how to read people’s comments and statuses to understand the true meaning. But this is still a challenge. Our generation is learning the lessons that will be future social etiquette for future generations.
    It will be interesting to see how much commentary we can get away with in the future and were the laws of libel, defamation, false light and public disclosure will end up.
    Chelsea McGuire
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communications

  • Chelsea McGuire

    Thanks so much for this post.
    It is a sign of the times and definitely something that the U.S. Supreme Court will have to look into in the near future. There is already an act (The Communication Decency Act) that protects Twitter and Facebook from libel lawsuits based on user-generated content.
    I am 24 and I learned the hard way that things in writing can be taken many ways (sometimes far from what you intended) and that once you say things on the internet, it is out in the open on the internet. I remember getting in fights with friends in high school about things said on AIM and YIM that were taken wrong. I also remember friends posting blogs on Xanga and LiveJournal about their bosses and they were soon fired for their comments. I think with the way social media has grown we have had to learn how to read people’s comments and statuses to understand the true meaning. But this is still a challenge. Our generation is learning the lessons that will be future social etiquette for future generations.
    It will be interesting to see how much commentary we can get away with in the future and were the laws of libel, defamation, false light and public disclosure will end up.
    Chelsea McGuire
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communications

  • Samantha Powell

    This was a great post! I enjoyed reading. I think this topic will become more and more important in the years to come.

    I constantly witness Facebook and Twitter users posting ridiculous comments and don’t understand why they would say anything like that! I know these people well enough to know that they wouldn’t say anything like this to people’s faces so why on earth do they post it to a social media site for the whole world to see?

    I think Chelsea McGuire made a great point when she said that the U.S. Supreme Court will be focusing on this in the near future. I also was unaware of the Communication Decency Act. I am glad that Facebook and Twitter have this act in place, because I think it is vital in order to protect themselves.

    It will be very interesting to see how court cases over social media and comments posted on them will turn out.

    Samantha Powell
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communications

  • Samantha McWilliams

    Like Greta said, we shouldn’t have to tip toe around in fear of being fired. Some social media sites, Facebook in particular, can act as a “house” where we can post what we want and say what we want based on the our discretion, while moderating who comes in and out our door. It’s typically not professional to invite your boss over to your house anyway—unless for a special occasion. That’s personally, how I will be keeping my Facebook. What I do with my personal life is none of their business, and should be allowed to be kept private. I understand many people use Facebook for networking, but there are flexible privacy settings that Facebook provides, making it easy to moderate who sees what.

    “With freedom comes responsibility,” and like you said “with social media comes great responsibility.” Even with the privacy mentioned above, at the end of the day we are responsible for everything we do and say, no matter who sees it. My motto for the online and offline world, “don’t say anything you wouldn’t want said back to you.”

    Great article.

    Samantha McWilliams
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Strategic Communications

  • Tamera Davis

    It is unfortunate that Chambers was convicted for Tweeting a joke that got taken out of context. While he was only joking the judge was correct in saying that other people could take that out of context and think there was harm or a reason to worry. There is such a fine line in Freedom of Speech and what you can not say online. Yes, every one is free to speak as they want to and are able to say what they want, but it seems as though when you put in online for anyone and every one to read then you have to be a lot more careful about what you say.

    Like Greta said below, I try to filter my timeline and follow people that are necessary, so that when future employers and future networking contacts look at my Twitter they will not get the wrong idea. Not that I say rude or use a lot of profanity or negativity, but some things that I may say jokingly, my future employers and contacts may not understand or see it as a joke. I try to keep my Facebook filtered as well, because I do not want future employers to get the wrong idea when they see certain pictures or posts.

    I understand that the First Amendment gives you the freedom to say what you want, but you still have to be careful about the things you say, especially when they are online for everyone to see. Twitter and Facebook is not your own personal diary that you can be assured no one will ever see, they are websites that many people have access to. You do not know who might be reading what you put, and if you Tweet something that could cause harm or worry to someone or something, when you meant it as a joke, then you may be convicted like Chambers was.

    Good article.

    Tamera Davis
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Strategic Communications

  • http://twitter.com/coleyearwood Justin Cole Yearwood

    This is an interesting post that opens the door for a controversial debate.
    My opinion toward the freedom of tweets is that while the issue is being debated a certain rule of common sense should be applied. Although I am a college student, I refuse to tweet any profanity or derogatory comments, even if vital to the “observation” because I eventually seek a future in public relations. I see the airport tweet as unnecessary and in poor taste but it was not directed at me nor was it my tweet so I don’t have much say in the matter; thankfully I don’t have responsibility over the tweet either. Legal or not I always consider if my observation appropriate for twitter is appropriate for my grandmother.
    My point is that you will never see this:
    “coleyearwood – #fire! #nowplaying yogi bear @carmike”

    Justin Yearwood
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communication

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Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. He is an avid keynote speaker and award-winning author who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation.

His most recent book, What's the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences (WTF), explores the landscape of connected consumerism and how business and customer relationships unfold in four distinct moments of truth. His previous book, The End of Business as Usual, explores the emergence of Generation-C, a new generation of customers and employees and how businesses must adapt to reach them. In 2009, Solis released Engage, which is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to market, sell and service in the social web.

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