US

Attorney claims college applicant was rejected by university for following Alex Jones on Twitter

Image source: ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty Images

Attorney Bradley Shear represents a teenage client who he claims was denied admission to a prestigious college because he follows Infowars founder and talk show host Alex Jones on Twitter.

It reportedly happened after the college admissions director questioned Shear’s client about why he follows the so-called conspiracy theorist, according to The College Fix.

The 17-year-old expected to be asked about his “stellar grades, top test scores, amazing extracurricular activities and volunteer work," Shear wrote on his blog.

Instead, he was drilled about who he connects with online.

“My client had never ‘liked’ or re-tweeted any of Mr. Jones’ content," Shear wrote. "His alleged ‘transgression’ was that he followed Mr. Jones on Twitter. That was it.”

Shear declined to name his client and the college, citing a settlement agreement, according to the report.

He did say the college is “regularly recognized as one of the top schools in the country by publications that rank higher education institutions,” the report states.

How was this resolved?

The college quickly resolved the issue to avoid negative publicity for basing a decision on who the teenager follows online rather than his accomplishments, Shear claimed.

Through his own digital background check, Shear found the admissions director follows socialist politician Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). He also discovered that she followed other “political groups/causes that are known to be politically left on Twitter," the report states.

Shear then pointed out the director’s apparent bias toward his client.

“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,” Shear wrote on his blog. “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.”

An increasing number of college admission officials are "going to great lengths to collect their applicant’s personal political opinions," Shear wrote.

“This isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue; but an issue regarding the future of our country,” Shear told the College Fix.

For some time, Jones has faced backlash for his controversial theories regarding the 9/11 terror attacks, the Sandy Hook school massacre and other events.

Jones was recently “de-platformed” by a number of social media giants. Apple kicked off the movement by announcing it was removing content by Jones and Infowars because it deemed it to be “hate speech.” Facebook, YouTube and Spotify followed suit.

Twitter banned Jones for a week after he tweeted a link to a video that urged supporters to figuratively take up their “battle rifles” against mainstream media and other groups. Twitter cited it as a violation of its rules against inciting violence. It also barred the Infowars account for posting the same link.

What's next?

Shear is trying to get Congress and the states to pass laws that prevent colleges and universities from snooping on students on social media.

He helped draft a privacy bill that became law in Maryland in 2012. The law prevents employers from asking employees or applicants to disclose their login credentials for a “personal account or service.” Employers also cannot threaten disciplinary action if employees refuse to hand over their passwords.

Shear has also worked on similar laws in at least 16 other states, he told The College Fix. The laws bar college admissions officials from demanding access to applicants’ social media accounts.

“I have been dealing with these types of issues/ similar situations for years and advise college applicants/students on these/similar matters regularly,” he told The College Fix in an email.

Shear claims on 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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