In a recent case, the Third Circuit held in Levy v. Mahanoy Area School District that a profane “snap” posted by a teenage girl was protected speech under the First Amendment. Today, any teen or young adult has grown up with Snapchat, an app that allows users to send their friends picture messages that disappear within a few seconds. Unless you take a “screenshot” of the message, the “snap” is gone forever. In the Levy case, student B.L.’s Snapchat resulted in her school suspending her.
What happened in Levy?
B.L., a student at Mahoney Area High School, tried out for the cheerleading team as a rising freshman, and she made the junior varsity team. The next year, instead of moving up to the varsity team, she remained in junior varsity. She was frustrated and disappointed that she had not moved up to the varsity team. The following Saturday, while spending time with friends. B.L. did what any teenager would do and took her frustrations to social media. She sent a Snapchat with her middle fingers up with the caption “f**k school, f**k softball, f**k cheer, f**k everything.” She posted this to her Snapchat “story,” meaning that the picture was visible to everyone on her friends list for 24 hours before disappearing from the app. One of B.L.’s teammates took a screenshot of the story and sent it to her cheerleading coach. As a result, B.L. was kicked off the cheerleading team.