Maryland Attorney, Bradley Shear, is representing a teenage client who claims to have been denied admission to a “prestigious college” for simply following a controversial personality on Twitter, Infowars founder Alex Jones.
According to Shear, his client was asked by an admissions officer why he followed Jones on Twitter. The student expressed that although they did follow Jones on Twitter, they never interacted with Jones’ account.
Shear decided to do a digital background check on the admissions officer who interviewed his client and found her to be a “follower” of politician Bernie Sanders–a socialist. Shear pointed out the obvious bias towards his client to the admissions officer and explained on his blog, “While I am not a listener or supporter of Mr. Jones, his audience has every right to watch his videos and listen to him and connect with him online since we live in a free country.”
“Unfortunately, some college admissions officials believe that applicants who connect with him online regardless of whether they believe Mr. Jones’ theories should not be provided an opportunity to attend the country’s most prestigious higher education institutions,” Shear continued.
Shear said in an August 7th blog post, “My client, a teenager expected to talk about his stellar grades, top test scores, amazing extracurricular activities and volunteer work, but the interviewer focused on who he was connecting with online. My client had never “liked” or re-tweeted any of Mr. Jones’ content. His alleged “transgression” was that he followed Mr. Jones on Twitter. That was it.”
Shear goes on to stress that the college admissions process is not the place for political discrimination, telling the admissions officer that, “the situation must be properly resolved immediately.” Shear continues, “The college didn’t want any negative publicity about this matter so it quickly resolved the situation to my client’s satisfaction.”
Shear is working to get Congress and the states to pass laws that will prevent universities and colleges from these types of digital background checks on perspective students on social media platforms.
In 2012, Shear helped to draft a privacy bill that became law in Maryland that prohibits employers from asking applicants or employees to disclose their passwords or login credentials for any “personal account or service,” nor can they threaten them with discipline for refusing to give their passwords out.
It should be noted that another client represented by Shear that was admitted to “one of the most prestigious universities in the world,” lost his offer and a $250,000 scholarship over a Facebook “like” and emoji in regards to the 2016 election, according to The College Fix.
Shear also points out in his blog that he has “dealt with multiple similar social media matters that focus on President Donald Trump’s opinions and actions along with those of other prominent voices (e.g. those considered very conservative or very liberal) whose opinions about hot button issues of public concern may not be shared by a majority of the population (e.g. members of an admissions committee).”
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