Gun Politics Trigger Social Media Policy Failure


How money and politics drove the Kansas Board of Regents to issue a social media policy that threatens academic freedom statewide with Doug Bonney, chief counsel and legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas.  

State legislators threatened to cut funding after a journalism professor sent out an angry tweet blaming the NRA for the Washington Navy Yard Shooting.

The Kansas Board of Regents responded by issuing a Draconian social media policy to try and deter faculty and staff from saying anything that might attract the disdain of elected state officials.   Topics discussed include:  

  • Concern among educators that politicians could try and control the conversations about a host of issues of public importance by threatening to cut funding. 
  • Why the first draft of the Kansas Board of Regents social media policy caused a ruckus and what they did to try and fix it.
  • The new draft of the policy released on May 14, 2014, which some say it still chills free speech rights and is an over reaction to an isolated incident
  • Why tweets sent off hours from a personal device on a home network are safer than those sent from an employers device or network
  • Problem of references to the “improper use of social media” in the new policyGenerally, citizens have more free speech rights than government employees, because government employers have some rights to impose restrictions. Also the NLRA, which protects private sector workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively do not apply to government workers or airline or railway employees for that matter, as well.
  • Who has greater free speech protections: private sector or government employees?
  • Issuing a looser social media policy  with stricter social media training, assessment and certification

Photo by Jay Rembert on Unsplash

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