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Maryland Poised to Pass Social Media Law

smartphone with social media bubbles (like, tweet, friend, share
Just a few weeks after two high school students were caught using social media to cheat on a standardized test, the state of Maryland House of Delegates voted to support legislation that would prevent schools from being able to ask for or require students’ social media account information. All the bill needs now to become law is Governor Larry Hogan’s signature.

Last month, the Baltimore Sun reported that two tenth graders in Maryland had been caught posting questions from a standardized test on Twitter. It’s not uncommon for students to cheat on exams, but social media provides a pretty easy way to do it — and an expedient one too. There are more than 27 million pieces of content shared online each day.

Many states have adopted the Common Core standards for education, which requires more standardized tests for younger students. Schools have the option to administer the test online or to use the pencil and paper method.

According to NBC affiliate WBAL, Maryland is one of about a dozen states that allows students to complete tests online, which could make cheating a little easier.

The two cheating students were caught when the testing company discovered the tweets after using software that searches for keywords and phrases. School officials were notified shortly after.

Three years ago, Maryland passed legislation that forbids employers to require employees to provide access to their social media accounts, which could bode well for the proposed legislation before the governor now.

The bill that forbids school officials from asking for students’ social media access saw voting results of 132-7 in the Maryland House of Delegates and unanimous approval from the Senate. The legislation was introduced in February by Democratic Sen. Ronald Young, and is also supported by social media privacy lawyer Bradley Shear

“This bill is not intended to protect people from saying or doing dumb things online,” Shear said. “It’s designed to ensure that they have the same privacy protections that they have in the physical space but in the digital space.”

It might seem like the bill could quash the ability for schools to catch students in the act of cheating, but the watchdog in this case was actually the testing company itself.

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