Missouri Judge Blocks Facebook Law

Brad Choat/Tanya Sinkovits

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOX) — Lots of movement Friday on Missouri’s controversial “Facebook Law,” restricting the use of social networking sites between teachers and students.

Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem issued a preliminary injunction against the law set to take effect Sunday, calling it a staggering prohibition of free speech rights. The judge’s order puts the law on hold until at least February, allowing time for a hearing on whether the law should be permanently blocked.

After Judge Beetem issued his ruling, Governor Jay Nixon called for the state legislature to repeal parts of Senate Bill 54 that have come under scrutiny. Those repeals will be made during the special session Nixon called for September 6th.

Missouri State Teachers Association spokesman Todd Fuller applauds the court’s action. “We’re very happy because the judge recognized that list particular issue would put, what he termed, a chilling affect on the rights of free speech of teachers.”

Senate Bill 54 known formally as the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act, would have barred teachers from using websites that give “exclusive access” to current students or former students who are minors. That would have meant that communication through Facebook or other social networking sites would have had to be done in public, rather than through private messages.

“Its just going to be a sense and a need for education about how valuable social media can be if used correctly, we just need to find a way to make it work for each district,” said Fuller.

Some districts have said the law would prohibit teachers from becoming ‘friends’ with students on Facebook or even texting and emailing them.

Author of the bill Senator Jane Cunningham R-Chesterfield refutes those statements saying there just not true.

Earlier this week Sen. Cunningham agreed to rework and clarify certain sections of the bill. She had hoped to do that in the special session.

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Teachers’ Association Sues Over Social Media Law

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