Prepared by PSEA's Legal Division
Note: As school employees, PSEA members must exercise caution when engaging in blogging and online communication. Keep in mind that First Amendment rights can be limited by virtue of your position as a school employee.
What is a Blog?
Short for “Web Log," a blog is an online space for a single user or small group of users to post text, video, etc., expressing ideas or opinions, and allowing other users to comment on postings. Blog can also can be used as a verb, meaning “to maintain or add content to a blog.”
Blog Content and the First Amendment: An employee’s speech is NOT protected if:
- It is spoken within job duties
- It deals with private, personal matters
- It causes disruption in the workplace
- It is unlawful or untrue
Tips for blogging and online communication:
1. Minimize risk by limiting access to your blog or website using a "friends only" or like setting.
2. Monitor postings to your blog constantly, and remove any that are inappropriate. Educate yourself on the comment approval/disapproval functions of the particular blogging site.
3. Do not post materials about your job duties, colleagues, supervisors or students (includes photographs and video). This will reduce danger of posting confidential information, information about private workplace matters, or otherwise carelessly or uninentionally post material that could affect your future employment.
4. If you choose to blog or post website content as a citizen or about a non-job related matter of public concern (i.e. elections, terrorism issues, envorimental issues, etc.) make sure that what you say will not impede your employer's effectiveness or efficiency, or otherwise disrupt your workplace.
5. Even if you are blogging or posting innocuous information (i.e. your favorite football team, family, etc.) be careful not to post comments that could adversely affect your employer (i.e. damage your employer's reputation) or interfere with your ability to carry out job duties.
6. Do not blog or post website content about personal subjects (i.e. dating, romance, or drug/alcohol use). Your blog or website should not contain sexual references, or contain vulgar or profane language or images. If your blog or a website were to receive a film rating, it should be "G rated."
7. Understand that blogging anonymously does not necessarily protect you. Names of bloggers, web authors and other internet users can be discovered through litigation.
8. Check to see if your employer has a policy regarding websites or blogging. If so, you should review the policy and contact your PSEA Uniserv with any questions.
9. Be aware of your employer’s blogging policy.
10. Limit access to your blog.