By: Grant Goetcheus
As the constitution was written over two centuries ago, society has changed since that time period. The forms of communication were slower. Things were mostly hand written and spread through word of mouth.
Although the word press was coming into society, it was not fully integrated into mass communication. With the creation of the internet, communication has become easier. The time it takes to type a tweet is shorter than it would be to write a letter.
These advancements have not come without cost, however. Society has become connected at every facet of life. The idea of privacy and a safe space it is becoming more challenged every day.
Privacy was never mentioned in the constitution and was never talked about in the legal system in America until the 1960’s. Griswold v. Conn. (381 U.S. 479) set the precedent that stated citizens have privacy in their homes and the things that they do in their homes. Another defining case relating to this was Kats v. US (389 U.S. 347), further clarifying that citizens have privacy in all areas outside the home that have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
With social media climbing into society, privacy has become difficult. Every selfie and every post shrinks that area of reasonable privacy. While this may not impact one’s personal life, it could be detrimental to a professional one.
According to the National Conferences of State Legislatures, “Some employers, however, say that access to personal social media accounts of employees is needed to protect the employer’s proprietary information or trade secrets, to comply with certain federal financial regulations or to prevent the employer from being exposed to legal liabilities.” Employers are not really concerned about selfies, but are worried about the company documents and ideas that are in the background of that picture.
The states have already begun creating legislature to protect employee’s passwords for personal internet accounts. So far 26 states have passed laws pertaining to employers and 13 have passed laws pertaining to educational institutions therefore making it important to understand states laws at work and home.
In regards to social media and future employment, University of Findlay Professor of Mass Media and the Law Dr. Diana Montague says reading the code of ethics is important.
“Look at your company’s codes of ethics and the employee handbook for rules on social media activities. Social media is under the protection of the 1st Amendment and free speech,” said Montague. “However, that protects against the government and not an employer. They can legally fire you if they show that you violated their rules that were signed when you started.”
There is no telling how social media will change and how future laws could change the way it’s used. Until then, it is important to reflect on posts and what can become of them after hitting send.