Lebanon High Student: The Constitution in a Buzzing New World

Editor’s Note: This essay was among the 16 finalists in the Constitution Day contest.

We live in a world beyond our Founding Fathers’ dreams. Our digital age could not have been predicted by anyone in the last century, let alone 1776. Yet we must use the guiding rules created in that time to govern our behavior in the modern age. While no laws directly deal with the concept of privacy on a social media site, there are elements of the Constitution that should limit what potential employers and school administrators use to gain information on employees and students.

Free speech should be considered when regarding what can be used against a person’s character. The First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees that Congress shall not make a law “abridging the freedom of speech.’’ If employers or school officials were to use what someone has said in the past on Facebook or Twitter, this would be against one’s freedom of speech. A person’s past speech should not be considered a representation of their current character.

The Fourth Amendment also contributes to banning this behavior. The amendment declares that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated ...” The use of someone’s personal passwords to have access to personal information that would not be accessible to the public is an “unreasonable search.’’ If a person lives in fear of having their information searched, they are not “secure’’ in their effects.

U.S. citizens have the right to free speech and the right against unreasonable searches. These rights apply when taken in context with both employers and government employees like school officials. Our Founding Fathers created a document with such broad language so that the principles outlined in the Constitution could be relevant for ages after its creation.