The Separation of Facebook and State

Since its launch in 2004, Facebook has not just changed the face of social networking, but also the way we as individuals “get social.” Ten years ago, there was no online arbiter of relationships – the term “Facebook official” had no bearing on a couple. Ten years ago, when you wanted to cut ties with a friend, the verb “defriend” didn’t even exist. And ten years ago, there were no embarrassing pictures floating around the interwebs to ruin your next job interview.

Good or bad, Facebook has changed the way we interact and relate to one another. High school sweethearts, long lost relatives and even your first grade teacher were suddenly accessible again. But starting on August 28, the state of Missouri would like to have their say. Missouri Senate Bill 54 will prohibit social networking between students and teachers. This extends beyond Facebook – from Twitter to Tumblr to Google+, Missouri will play the role of big brother.

It wasn’t all that long ago that some parents were praising Facebook for making teachers more accessible after 3pm. Have a question about that Algebra homework? Ms. Smith is on Facebook right this moment.

While the implications of this bill are still unclear to many, it looks as if it is not meant to completely cut off contact between teacher and student, but merely keep a close eye on it. Any contact between a teacher and student must be open to the public for both school administration and parents to see. If a teacher wants to dole out homework help after hours, they’ll likely have to create a Facebook page. Students will then have to “Like” that page and become a fan of their teacher. Literally.

The biggest question now: will other laws curbing social networking use be created? Whether or not you agree with Missouri Senate Bill 54, it will be interesting to see how the rest of the social media world is affected. Will other platforms move to more open forms of communication?