Freedom of Speech?
I deactivated my Facebook account. Overall, my comments were few and far between, as were my photos. I believed I was usually very careful and cautions about what I would post. However, as the old saying goes, “one could never be too careful.”
I live in a small community, a 55 plus mobile-home park, which is akin to being under constant National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance. Nothing goes unnoticed or unreported here. Recently, I found there was a Facebook group that some residents here were part of, so I joined in, because I prefer to write than talk with people. I thought it would be a good thing. Wrong.
Our park had been sold, during which time the Home Owner’s Association (HOA) was keeping the name of the buyer under their hats, which I resented. No public records had yet been recorded on the Clerk of Court or County Appraisers website. Through stealth research, I was able to determine who the owner and his associate were, along with their business address (which happened to be a mansion up-for-sale). I published my findings on the Facebook group page, along with the names of some other businesses owned, but no personal information on either of the two men. Nor did I even search for any personal details.
There was a major uproar by the Censorship Police in the park over my postings of these public records. I was told to take my comments down. I realized full well, I did not have to do this, but I did and also closed my Facebook account, because what good was it, if I could not exercise my First Amendment right in peace? To me, it wasn’t worth the grief.
Imagine, if I had an employer, and they decided to censor or fire me for Facebook posts I might make? Fortunately, for existing and prospective Florida employees, there is a bill working its way through the Senate, sponsored by Senator Jeff Clemons, to prevent employers from demanding passwords and snooping on Facebook posts not intended for public viewing. This bill also aims to protect existing or potential employees from retaliation for failing to comply with such requests. If passed, it should become effective October 2014.
In my case, park gossip is OK, along with talking behind people’s backs, but do not post facts and public business records on Facebook, especially in a public group one must join in order to post.