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Cityscape
4:08 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

How Facebook Brought Together Two Local Strangers And Led To The Return Of A Stolen Stopwatch

A silver-plated stopwatch once owned by Les St. Vrain and stolen was returned to his son earlier this week.
(Courtesy: Stasha Lanigan-Wyman)

About 10 years ago, a silver-plated stopwatch was stolen from the St. Louis home of Mike St. Vrain’s mother during a home invasion.

Thought long lost, St. Vrain of rural Franklin County received an unexpected call earlier this week. The call was from a family friend who saw a post on the public Facebook group, “St. Louis History, Landmarks & Vintage Photos.”

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Facebook
10:07 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

St. Louis Facebook Users 'Like' And 'Dislike' New Gender Options

Sterling Waldman
Credit Provided by Sterling Waldman

For many people, selecting “male” or “female” on their Facebook profile is an easy choice. But for those who identify differently, Facebook now provides 56 gender selections.

Listen to Nancy's story on how different St. Louisians reacted to Facebook gender identification options.

Last week, Sterling Waldman of Chesterfield turned 17 and received a perfect birthday present: the option to identify as “genderqueer” on Facebook.

On Friday, Facebook expanded its drop-down menu to offer a “custom” selection of genders that provides more than four dozen options, a cause for celebration for many who identify in a nontraditional way.

“It was very exciting to have that happen,” Waldman told St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon.

Fifty-six Choices Not Enough?

Born and raised female, Waldman always felt different from friends and schoolmates.

“I didn’t really fit in with the girls and I didn’t fit in with the boys,” Waldman said. “I wanted to be both.”

For years, Waldman struggled with the feelings but lacked the language to describe them.

“I didn’t have the words, but I learned the terminology at the end of my freshman year,” Waldman remembered.

Waldman, who prefers the pronouns “them” and “they” to “him, his, her or hers,” has parental support and a community of like-minded people, outside of school and within Parkway Central High.

“In my grade, there are two others who identify as gender-non-binary,” Waldman said.

Facebook's menu also includes "transgender," "trans," "androgynous" and "cisgender," which is another way of saying you identify as the gender you were assigned at birth.

But are 56 choices enough? When it comes to politics and religion, Facebook users don’t have to pick from a list. They can write in their beliefs using words of their choosing. The profile form looks as though you could write in what you want, but it only accepts one of the 56 terms.

Despite the glee over being able to identify as “genderqueer” on Facebook, Waldman knows that not everyone will find the right term to describe such a personal and integral part of themselves.

"I have some friends whose identities are not on that list," Waldman said.

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Social Media
4:40 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

Ill. bill on employer Facebook password requests hits snag

(via Flickr/MoneyBlogNewz)

Legislation that would prohibit employers from seeking job applicants' social network passwords is on hold in the Illinois House.

Democratic Rep. La Shawn Ford's measure would allow job-seekers to file lawsuits if asked for access to sites like Facebook. Bosses could still ask for usernames that would allow them to view public information on the sites.

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MO Statehouse/"Facebook" law
2:20 pm
Fri October 21, 2011

Mo. repeals teacher-student Internet restrictions

Updated at 6:23 p.m. to include comments from the bill's sponsor, and Gov. Nixon's criticism of the bill, despite signing it

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has signed legislation repealing a contentious law, known by some as the "Facebook law," that had limited online discussions between teachers and students.

Nixon's signature Friday will delete a law enacted earlier this year barring teachers from using websites that allow "exclusive access" with current or former students 18 or younger. Some teachers raised concerns that they would be restricted from using social media sites such as Facebook, which allow private messages.

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House approves Facebook fix
10:08 am
Fri September 23, 2011

House sends Facebook fix to Governor Nixon

The Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City
(St. Louis Public Radio photo)

At least one bill has made it out of the special legislative session.

Today the Missouri House overwhelmingly passed the so-called “Facebook Fix,” which would remove confusing language from a new law regarding teacher-student messaging via social media.  That law was placed on hold last month by a Cole County judge, who ruled that barring teachers from websites that allow private messaging with students would have a, quote, “chilling effect” on free speech rights.

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MO Statehouse
3:46 pm
Mon September 19, 2011

Mo. House committee passes "Facebook fix"

(via Flickr/MoneyBlogNewz)

A Missouri House committee has unanimously passed legislation that would remove confusing language from a new state law regarding the use of social media between teachers and students.

The bill was passed last week by the Missouri Senate.  It’s being handled in the House by State Representative Chris Kelly (D, Columbia).

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Missouri "Facebook" law
11:05 am
Wed September 14, 2011

Mo. Senate passes revision to teacher-Facebook law

(via Flickr/MoneyBlogNewz)

Missouri senators have overwhelmingly passed a bill revising a new law that restricts teachers' online conversations with students.

The legislation would repeal a law barring teachers from using websites that give "exclusive access" to students, such as sending private messages on Facebook. Senators voted 33-0 Wednesday to send the bill to the House.

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Missouri "Facebook" law
5:29 pm
Mon September 12, 2011

Mo. Senate backs revision to teacher-Facebook law

(via Flickr/MoneyBlogNewz)

The Missouri Senate has endorsed legislation revising a contentious new state law that limits teacher communications with students over the Internet.

The bill given initial approval Monday would repeal a law barring teachers from using websites that give "exclusive access" to students. The provision already had been temporarily blocked by a judge last month because of free-speech concerns.

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Teacher/student online contact
11:56 pm
Tue September 6, 2011

Showdown looming between Mo. Senate, Nixon, over social media language

The Mo. Capitol at dusk
(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

The Missouri State Senator who sponsored the measure strictly limiting teacher-student contact via Facebook and other social media has filed legislation she says will clear up any confusion over the new law.

The issue was added Tuesday to the call of the special session by Governor Jay Nixon (D), but in his call the governor only stipulated that the language in question be removed, not replaced with new language.

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Missouri "Facebook" law
11:24 am
Fri August 26, 2011

Missouri judge blocks Facebook limits for teachers

(via Flickr/MoneyBlogNewz)

Updated 4:19 p.m. with comment from the Missouri State Teachers Association and Missouri State Sen. Jane Cunningham, the sponsor of the original bill which became law

From Todd Fuller of the Missouri State Teachers Association:

“It’s a sigh of relief for all teachers throughout the state who use social media, and it allows them to continue to use it in the positive way that they’re already using it and continue to interact with their students the way they have been.”

From Missouri State Sen.  Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, who sponsored the bill.  She acknowledges that there’s been confusion over what the restrictions will and won’t do, and says she has a solution:

“We have come up with some language that we feel like is ready to go…we don’t need to punt for more input, (I’m) not opposed to it, but we’ve got some agreed upon language with the stakeholders and we’re ready to clarify that language.”

Updated 1:11 p.m. with Gov. Nixon's action

Gov. Jay Nixon says he will add the teacher Internet issue to the agenda for a special legislative session that begins Sept. 6. Nixon says he wants lawmakers to repeal the new law.

His Friday announcement came shortly after a Missouri judge issued a preliminary injunction (see below) blocking the law from taking effect as scheduled on Sunday.

Updated 11:32 a.m. with link to full ruling

A Missouri judge has blocked a law restricting Internet communications between teachers and students from taking effect Sunday.

(You can read the full ruling here).

Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem issued a preliminary injunction against the law Friday, calling it a staggering prohibition of free speech rights.

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