|Kansas State Attorney General's Policy Allows Firing for Posts
By: Jessica Cherok
If you’re a public university employee in Kansas, you'd better start being more cautious with what you post on social media. The state attorney general has approved the ability for those employees to be fired for improper social media use.
Unfortunately for those employees, what constitutes "improper" is very broad. According to the policy, any post that “could incite violence, disclose confidential information or otherwise damage the university” could lead to an employee’s firing. It’s the latter part of what “damage” means that has many people concerned.
First Amendment advocates and legal experts say that the policy's language leaves it up to the universities to determine what kind of language could cause damage, and that determination could infringe on employees’ rights to free speech.
In addition to its impact on current employees, Kansas’s public universities could encounter a difficult time recruiting. Quality faculty may see the social media policy as being too broad and too restrictive, and decide to look elsewhere for employment.
Such social media policies exist in workplaces all over the United States, and have been the source of contention between employers and employees since the rise of social media. Some companies have even insisted that potential employees hand over their social media passwords in order to be considered for employment. The practice has raised harsh criticism from privacy advocates.
How the ambiguous new policy will play out for Kansas’s public universities remains to be seen.
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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