May 22, 2012 12:53 PM EDT
Most of us know that what you post on Facebook is often seen by more than just your Facebook friends. Some employers use it as a tool to check out applicants. Some journalists have used it as a way to gain information.
Maurice Eisenstein, a political science professor at Purdue University, is suing school officials over the fallout from a Facebook post he made.
On his personal account, Eisenstein posted, "Christians killed by a radical Muslim group" in Nigeria and wrote, "Where are the 'moderate' Muslims' reactions to this? Oh, I forgot they are still looking at the earth as flat according to the idiot Mohammed, may his name be cursed."
The PUC Muslim Student Association, faculty members and students filed harassment and discrimination complaints against the professor.
After months of discussion, Eisenstein was eventually cleared of violating the school's bias policy but not for allegedly retaliating against two professors who had complained.
"They're interpreting free speech as any speech that doesn't offend or make someone feel bad," Eisenstein said. He said he was told by the school that they were worried that the remark would make foreign students from Saudi Arabia feel bad.
Adam Kissel, vice president of programs for the Foundation of Individual Rights in Education, said it seems like there is more monitoring of social media than ever before.
And with this software and databases at their fingertips, college students are also learning to be careful what they post.
Last year at Syracuse University, a satirical blog, SUCOLitis, was created and poked fun at the university's College of Law. Subsequently, a student was investigated for harassment by the College of Law.
This January, an expelled Syracuse graduate student, Matt Werenczak, was allowed to rejoin The School of Education program after being suspended for comments he made on his Facebook page.
According to an article in the Syracuse Daily Orange, Werenczak, who is white, posted on Facebook: "Just making sure we're okay with racism. It's not enough I'm ... tutoring in the worst school in the city, I suppose I oughta be black or stay in my own side of town."
The increased monitoring of Facebook by colleges and universities may become a fact of life. And despite everything that has happened to him, Eisenstein said he wants to still teach at Purdue and be able to make a stand for free speech while simultaneously teaching it.
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