Quick Hits: Missouri Judge Blocks Social Media Ban for Teachers

In today’s Quick Hits, we share a new development in Missouri’s hotly-debated law that prohibited teachers from friending students online, opinions on Facebook’s new privacy controls, and guidelines from the National Labor Relations Board on proper Facebook firing etiquette.

Missouri Judge Blocks Facebook Ban for Teachers

FOX News reports that, “a Missouri judge has blocked a law restricting Internet communications between teachers and students from taking effect Sunday,” confirming criticism from some legal experts that criticized the law as overly broad and unconstitutional. The law was ostensibly created to limit sexual contact between teachers and students, but could also be interpreted to forbid teachers from having any presence on social networking websites.

Social Media Responsible for Increase in Online Libel Cases

The number of libel cases citing social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter more than doubled in the UK in the last year. According to the Telegraph, “the rise has been disclosed as social networking websites become the new front line in the debate over Britain’s libel laws” In the UK, strong privacy laws have generally prevented the rich and wealthy from having secrets exposed in the media, but the prevalence and anonymous nature of social networking websites has made these laws ineffectual.

Security Experts Mixed Over New Facebook Privacy Controls

This week, Facebook began rolling out an extensive overhaul of its privacy controls, leading to much debate in the online security and privacy community. ZDNet reports that while the “overall consensus is that this is a step forward” some security experts “still have mixed feelings” about the change. The security company Sophos articulated the general concern, writing in a statement that Facebook “missed an opportunity to lead the way on privacy” and should “become truly opt-in” if it wants to enact meaningful change for consumers.

NLRB Clarifies When You Can and Can’t Fire Employees

In a well-written and well-researched article for Forbes, Kashmir Hill discusses the National Labor Relations Board’s recent recommendations regarding when companies can and can’t fire employees for negative online content. As Kashmir explains, “all private employers must respect their workers’ right to ‘protected concerted activity.’” In other words, if an employee is complaining about his or her working conditions, the speech is protected.

Identifying Influencers in Social Media

Brands are increasingly using social media to connect with customers, but what they’re really interested in is connecting with influencers. As this article from the Telegraph explains, “social media are changing at such a pace that attracting vast numbers of ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ are no longer enough to help brands stand out from the crowd. Now it is all about tapping in to people’s digital status and identifying key ‘influencers.’” As a part of this shift in marketing thinking, many start-ups are attempting to assign reputation and influences scores to individuals to help brands target the right social media users.