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What is okay to post on social media and what it not? Take this quiz to find out!

1. Students cannot be punished at school for what they post on social media.
Incorrect. It is possible for schools to take disciplinary action against a student who posted certain content online.
Correct! Under certain circumstances, a school may be within its rights to discipline students for their social media content.
2. A student creates a website when he is at home that uses profanity and threatens the safety of one of his teachers. Many of his friends see the website and leave comments on the page. He receives some support from his peers, but he also receives some criticism. Can the school punish him for his off-campus speech?
Correct! This type of off campus speech includes two forms of unprotected speech. First, it is likely to cause a disruption of the learning environment at school. Second, it has specific, targeted violence toward his teacher.
Incorrect. A school can discipline students for off-campus speech that the school reasonably believes will cause (or actually has caused) a disruption to the learning environment. Also, because there were violent threats directed at his teacher, the school is allowed to discipline the student for this type of speech.
3. A public-school student creates a list of all the reasons a specific teacher should be fired. The list includes the teacher’s lack of knowledge about the subject he teaches and the disrespect the teacher shows toward students. The student then posts this list to social media, and it receives a lot of online attention from students, parents, and school officials. Can the school discipline the student for this speech?
Incorrect. This type of speech would be protected since it is directed at a governmental employee.
Correct! Teachers at public schools are employed by the government. Because the student was criticizing a government official for poor job performance this would be protected as political speech.
4. A student’s social media post is so outrageous that no one takes it seriously, but it is all anyone can talk about at lunch. The post discussed the student’s desire to sit back eating popcorn while he watched the entire town “jump off a cliff like the lemmings they are” straight into the fiery pits of Hell. This type of off-campus speech is protected.
Correct! Hyperbolic speech, or speech that is an extreme exaggeration, is protected when no one takes it seriously, but this is only the case as long as it does not cause a disruption to the learning environment.
Incorrect. The school cannot discipline the student’s comments in this case. Even though everyone was talking about it, lunch time discussions do not disrupt the learning environment.
5. A school must punish a student who is a minor for posting inappropriate material online that includes sexually suggestive photos.
Incorrect. A school cannot punish a student for off-campus speech that it finds to be inappropriate unless it causes a disruption to the learning environment of a school.
Correct! Lewd and vulgar speech uttered off-campus by a student is protected as long as it is not disruptive to the learning environment.
6. A student created a group on social media and invited all members to post mean things about a student at the school. Dozens of students access the webpage and post insulting pictures and comments about the targeted student, but none of it is violent. Is it likely that this off-campus speech would be protected?
Incorrect. Even though this off-campus speech does not threaten the targeted student, it would likely not be protected.
Correct! This speech is not likely to be protected because many states have laws against cyberbullying, and many schools prohibit such speech.
7. Of the following, select all that are factors to consider when determining whether off-campus speech is protected.
Incorrect. The truth of the off-campus speech is not a relevant factor to consider.
Correct! Schools may punish off-campus speech if the school reasonably believes the speech will disrupt the learning environment.
Incorrect. The anonymity of the speaker is not a relevant factor, but it may make disciplining the speaker more difficult. The First Amendment protects anonymous speech as long as it is not defamatory, solicitation of a crime, bribery, or some other form of unprotected speech.
Correct! This would be a factor for a school to consider because it creates a nexus, or connection, with the school.
Correct! This would create a nexus, or connection, to the off-campus speech and the school.
8. A student’s social media post must cause an actual disruption on campus to be punishable by school officials.
Incorrect. Speech that doesn’t cause a disruption can still be punishable, such as violent, targeted threats and cyberbullying.
Correct! While actual disruption to the learning environment would be enough for the school to discipline the student for the social media post, the school officials only need to reasonably forecast a disruption. So if a school can reasonably show a possibility for a disruption to the learning environment, then the speech could be censored.
9. A student is upset by the grade he received on his English test. During lunch, he goes to the computer lab and posts the following statement on social media: “Mr. Jones is the worst teacher I’ve ever had! He has the nerve to give me a B on a test when he doesn’t even know the difference between a simile and a metaphor! Like, comment, and share this post if you think he should be fired on the spot!” Two students liked the post, and three students commented on it over the next week, and no one talked about it at school. For which of the following reasons could the school punish the student for his speech on social media?
Incorrect. Criticizing the teacher at a public school is political speech, and this type of speech is protected.
Correct! Using the school computer establishes a connection to the online speech and the school.
Incorrect. This is likely hyperbolic speech, which is protected if it doesn’t cause a disruption.
Incorrect. This would not be enough for the speech to be punishable since the number of students is so low, and it did not affect the learning environment.
10. A student can be punished for a post on social media that scared a teacher so badly that the teacher needed to take time off and be replaced by a substitute for weeks. The student can still be punished even though no students talked about the post because none of them took the post seriously.
Correct! While a substitute may be a qualified replacement for a teacher, the teacher’s absence for weeks is highly likely to cause a disruption within the learning environment.
Incorrect. Even if no one discussed the social media post at school, and no one took the post seriously, removing a teacher from a classroom causes a disruption to the learning environment.