One of the ways dental education is changing the way it is preparing the next generation of learners is through efficient utilization of interactive social media. Social media, which facilitates interaction and sharing of new ideas, is being utilized to educate students, residents, and faculty. Unfortunately, as with most improvements in technology, there are growing pains. Faculty, student, and patient interaction on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, can lead to inappropriate or embarrassing situations. Striking the appropriate balance between free speech rights of students and faculty and the need for colleges and universities to have efficient operations is often left to the judicial system. The concepts of free speech and contract law and how each is applied in educational settings should be understood by students, faculty, and administrators. This article provides a review of legal cases that led to current social media policies, as well as present-day cases that exemplify the application of these principles, to help dental educators gain a greater understanding of the boundaries of protected speech. It also provides a set of sample guidelines for communicating through these media.

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Published in Journal of Dental Education, v. 78, no. 11, p. 1558-1567.

Reprinted by permission of Journal of Dental Education, Volume 78, no. 11 (Nov. 2014). Copyright 2014 by the American Dental Education Association. http://www.jdentaled.org

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