Public Forum 2.1: Public Higher Education Institutions and Social Media

Florida Coastal L. Rev, Forthcoming

46 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2013 Last revised: 20 Sep 2015

See all articles by Robert H. Jerry

Robert H. Jerry

University of Florida - Levin College of Law

Lyrissa Barnett Lidsky

University of Missouri School of Law

Date Written: March 22, 2013

Abstract

Like most of us, public colleges and universities increasingly are communicating via Facebook, Second Life, YouTube, Twitter and other social media. Unlike most of us, public colleges and universities are government actors, and their social media communications present complex administrative and First Amendment challenges. The authors of this article — one the dean of a major public university law school responsible for directing its social media strategies, the other a scholar of social media and the First Amendment — have combined their expertise to help public university officials address these challenges. To that end, this article first examines current and likely future uses of social media in higher education and then provides both a map of the complex terrain of First Amendment doctrine and practical guidance for navigating it. As part of this guidance, this article explains how different social media policies and practices are likely to affect public universities' attempts to maintain civil discourse in the forums they create. Ultimately, this article seeks to assist and encourage public universities to engage their constituencies through social media in ways that improve governance, advance their institutional missions, and promote public discourse.

Keywords: public forum, government speech, social media, first amendment, Twitter, university, college, higher education, free speech, Facebook, government speech, web 2.0

Suggested Citation

Jerry, Robert H. and Lidsky, Lyrissa Barnett, Public Forum 2.1: Public Higher Education Institutions and Social Media (March 22, 2013). Florida Coastal L. Rev, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2230427

Robert H. Jerry

University of Florida - Levin College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 117625
Gainesville, FL 32611-7625
United States
352 273 0603 (Phone)
352 392 8727 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.ufl.edu

Lyrissa Barnett Lidsky (Contact Author)

University of Missouri School of Law

Missouri Avenue & Conley Avenue
Columbia, MO MO 65211
United States

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