N.Y. Court Permits Wife to Serve Husband Through Facebook

A New York state court judge recently held that it was more appropriate for a wife to send a divorce summons to her hard-to-reach husband using Facebook than through the longstanding method of service through a newspaper posting.

Facebook Accounts After Death

Managing a Facebook account may be added to the list of some executors’ duties after Facebook Inc. said Feb. 12 that users could name a “Legacy Contact.”

AMBER Alerts to Appear in Facebook News Feeds

New York’s attorney general said in a Jan. 13 statement that Facebook Inc. is helping in the search for abducted children by placing AMBER Alerts on users’ news feeds if they are in a targeted search area.

Is Whisper Honoring Its Privacy Promises?

A senior U.S. senator wants to know whether Whisper, a mobile application that lets users "anonymously share their innermost thoughts, secrets, and feelings," is honoring its privacy policy.

Should Tech Companies Be Allowed to Share More Detail on National Security Requests?

Social media platforms-such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn -are sharing aggregate statistical data on the number of U.S. national security requests they are required to comply with, but they are barred from revealing exactly how many government requests they received. Two lawsuits may affect the breadth of disclosure, or they may reaffirm a current approach that limits companies to reporting those requests within ranges.

Restaurant Revels in Rock-Bottom Yelp Reviews

A San Francisco Bay Area Italian restaurant is applauding Yelp Inc. users for helping its hand-made pizza and pasta achieve unlikely celebrity status with a low one-star ranking.

Court Orders Twitter to Reveal Account Information

Some imitation Twitter accounts are relatively harmless, such as the @FakeUnitedJeff and @notzuckerberg accounts that roast the heads of United Continental Holdings Inc. and Facebook Inc.  But for one New York man, a Twitter account with his unique name led to criminal charges because it tweeted a sexual abuse victim's photograph.

Court: Former Employee Didn’t Own 6 Million Likes on Facebook Page

A lawsuit raised and answered the question of whether the manager of an unofficial Facebook fan page for a TV show owned the over six million likes the page received. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida said no and dismissed the manager's case against Black Entertainment Television LLC.

Will the Right to Be Forgotten Apply to Social Media in the EU?

Search engines operating in the European Union are dealing with a recent landmark privacy ruling that requires them to remove search results linking to websites containing personal information about individuals. An August meeting between Facebook Inc. and a regional German data protection office may be the first signal as to whether that ruling will be expanded to social media companies.

Google+ Drops Real Name Policy

Google Inc. will no longer require its Google+ users to have a real name attached to their account, the company said in a July 15 post.

Social Media Advisory Board Launches

A group of high-profile attorneys that joined the Bloomberg BNA Social Media Law & Policy Report Editorial Advisory Board in July will bring their expertise and insights to the publication.

Dealing With the Rise of Digital Assets

A relative dies and in her will leaves you with $50,000, shares of valuable stocks, a car, furniture and her collection of family photos and videos on sites such as Facebook, Flickr and YouTube. In many states, the ability of her executor to provide you with ownership of those photos and videos may be more difficult than dealing with any of the other items, because of the absence of laws dealing with digital assets.

Suing a Social Media Company May Be Harder Than You Think

Plaintiffs are finding that going after the deep corporate pockets of Facebook Inc., Yelp Inc. or other social media companies because of the actions taken by their users is tough, maybe impossible, because of immunity granted by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Default Privacy Setting for New Facebook Users Is Now Friends Only

Most new users of Facebook had their privacy setting set at "public," which the company said in a recent blog post may have resulted in some users accidentally sharing information with too many people. Facebook said the privacy setting for new users would now be "friends only."

Mother Can’t Blog About Children, Ex-Husband

A New Jersey court can punish a mother who violated a condition of her parole when she blogged about her children and ex-husband, according to a May 13 ruling from the New Jersey Superior Court,...

Social Media Privacy Bills Facing More Scrutiny

At least 14 states since 2012 have limited the ability of companies to request that employees or job applicants provide access to their personal social media accounts. In many cases, legislatures approved the bills unanimously and without extensive debate. However, some state legislatures addressing the issue in 2014 have killed or scuttled the bills, often citing concerns over the breadth of exceptions for employers.

SEC Rolls Out More Guidance on Social Media

The Securities and Exchange Commission has ramped up its guidance to the financial services industry on how some securities law rules will be enforced in the social media context.


The Internal Revenue Service may not have the tens of millions of Twitter followers that Katy Perry and Justin Bieber have, but it is actively engaging with taxpayers through the platform as well as other forms of social media.

Did You Mean to Share That With Everyone?

Do some social media users need the occasional reminder to check their privacy settings? Facebook is testing out a "privacy checkup" box with selected users that may reveal the answer.

Will WhatsApp’s Commitment to Privacy Change?

Is WhatsApp Inc.'s stance as a privacy-friendly mobile application in jeopardy if Facebook Inc. acquires the company? Two advocacy groups, in a request for investigation sent to the Federal Trade Commission, argued yes.

Study: Social Media Is a 'Critical' Area of Concern for Internal Auditors

A priority for internal auditors is managing the risks related to the use of social media within companies, a study released March 19 from Protiviti Inc. said. Protiviti is a consulting firm that serves major corporations with finance, technology, operations and internal audit problems.

FDA Addresses Social Media

Pharmaceutical companies have been wary of dipping their toes into social media marketing. That may change once the Food and Drug Administration carries through on its pledge to give the pharmaceutical industry four draft guidance documents addressing social media drug marketing.

EEOC to Address Social Media on March 12

Is the increasing use of social media in the workplace affecting the enforcement of anti-discrimination laws? The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will address the issue at a March 12 public meeting at agency headquarters in Washington.

Privacy Beyond the Grave

The privacy preferences that Facebook users made during their lifetimes will remain constant after they die, the company said Feb. 21, announcing a switch from its policy of restricting all memorial accounts to a friends-only setting.

Flawed Facebook Settlement?

Did a federal district court err in approving Facebook Inc.'s Sponsored Stories class action settlement in August 2013? At least two groups of objectors believe so.

Wisconsin Privacy Bill Addresses Landlords, Tenants

Most state legislatures have focused in recent years on restricting the ability of employers and educational institutions to demand access to the personal social media accounts of current and prospective employees and students. The Wisconsin Legislature, which in late January sent a similar social media bill to the governor, added landlords to the list of those facing limitations.


When the head police officer in Dallas decides to fire an employee, he tells the world.

Are Privacy Rights Implicated by Facial Recognition Technology?

After uploading photos you took at a party, you see that Facebook's technology somehow identified your friends and suggested tags for each person in the photos. Is that facial recognition technology a helpful tool, or does it violate the privacy rights of those in the photos?

Broader Access to Social Media in Iran?

Iran's minister of culture and Islamic guidance Nov. 4 said the government should lift its filtering of Facebook and other social networking platforms, according to Iran's government-controlled news agency.

Iowa Supreme Court Tackles Live Tweeting, Blogging

Journalists covering trials used to dash outside the courthouse and run to a TV camera or their computer during breaks to report on prominent cases. Today, however, reporters can provide live updates to readers by tweeting during a trial or uploading a new blog post, so long as they are armed with a laptop or smartphone inside the courtroom.

Facebook Addresses Violent Video Controversy

Facebook Oct. 22 said it was strengthening enforcement of its graphic content policy, which attracted attention after critics-including U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron-alleged the company was permitting impressionable users to see overly disturbing content.

BBNA Social Media Portfolio Available

Bloomberg BNA recently released Corporate Practice Series Portfolio No. 91, Social Media Law , co-authored by David A. Bell, a partner at Haynes & Boone LLP.

Bell recently discussed several aspects of social media use and how to mitigate the legal risks it presents in, among other areas, employment, marketing and M&A due diligence. The following is a shortened version of Bell's interview, which is available in full to BBNA subscribers.

I’d Like to Add You to My Professional Network

"I'd like to add you to my professional network." Did that LinkedIn invitation come from the executive you traded business cards with at a recent conference? Or did the professional social networking company put you together with a prospective contact after "hacking" into your friend's e-mail account, as was claimed in a recent lawsuit?

MacArthur Foundation to Decline Facebook Settlement Funds

Thanks, but no thanks.

That was the response of one of 14 organizations selected to receive assigned percentages of the several million dollars remaining in Facebook Inc.'s $20 million Sponsored Stories litigation settlement.

Two Companies Request FTC Review of Proposed COPPA Parental Consent Methods

The Federal Trade Commission recently asked the public to comment on two applications that would allow social media networks and other online services to obtain parental consent for the collection of children's personal information in compliance with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule.

More Transparency on National Security Requests?

Should social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter be permitted to share exactly how many times the U.S. government has made a request for user information because of national security, or is that information too sensitive to be shared with a high level of specificity?

LinkedIn Will Soon Allow High Schoolers

Motivated high school students considering where to attend college are a new target for LinkedIn Corp., which announced in an Aug. 19 blog post that it will lower its minimum age to 14 in the United States next month.

Social Media Companies, Legislators Seek Transparency on PRISM

Major U.S. social media companies are seeking approval to release data about government surveillance requests, and legislators in August introduced bills that would increase transparency and oversight in the wake of news reports making public a government surveillance program called PRISM.

FTC’s Revised COPPA Compliance Guidelines May Impact Social Media Companies

The Federal Trade Commission's latest updates to its frequently asked questions on complying with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act may help answer lingering questions social media companies, advertising networks, and others may have following the July 1 effective date of the commission's amended COPPA Rule.

LivingSocial Reports Drop in Profitability Due to Cyber-Attack

Online daily deal company LivingSocial Inc. said it had a drop in profits in April and May partially because of a cyber-attack that exposed the encrypted passwords and other information of up to 50 million customers, a spokeswoman for the company told BNA July 30.

Should Facebook Inform Users of an Imposter Account?

A teenager who does not have a Facebook account finds out that another person is impersonating her on Facebook and many of her friends are receiving inappropriate comments from that account. What obligations, if any, should Facebook Inc. have when it is informed about the imposter account?

Courts Continue to Differ on Social Media Discovery

In two opinions this month - coincidentally both involving the alleged use of excessive force by police - federal district courts came to opposite conclusions regarding whether to permit broad social media discovery.

Taco Bell Responds Promptly to Viral Photo

A company's brand reputation can take decades to build, and in the social media age, seconds to be imperiled. Taco Bell Corp. faced that problem after a man posted a photo June 2 allegedly depicting an employee licking multiple taco shells at a Ridgecrest, Calif., store on the company's Facebook page.

Rapper Eminem Alleges Facebook Home Ads Infringe Copyright

Two companies owned by rapper Eminem May 20 filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan against Facebook Inc. and its advertising agency, alleging ads for new mobile software application Facebook Home  infringe the copyright of his song Under the Influence .

Disputed Ownership of a Twitter Handle

Under what circumstances can Twitter Inc. take away an account holder's handle, particularly when a company desires the account name? A lawsuit filed earlier this month in an Idaho trial court may help answer that question.

New Jersey Governor Asks Legislature To Narrow Scope of Social Media Privacy Bill

A Bloomberg BNA correspondent's write-up regarding a request by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) that the Legislature narrow a social media privacy bill that would regulate employers in the state, which appeared in BNA's Social Media Law & Policy Report , is available online to both subscribers and nonsubscribers.

COPPA Rule Changes: Be Ready for July 1

Websites and online services that will be affected by the amended Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule need to prepare for the rule's July 1 implementation date after the Federal Trade Commission rejected calls by industry to push back the date.

Legislative Roundup

A federal lawmaker failed to convince his colleagues to adopt a social media privacy amendment to a federal cybersecurity bill, but legislators in several states have had better luck, as a number of bills recently became law.

CISPA: Will Social Media Companies Come on Board?

A cybersecurity bill (H.R. 624) that the House Intelligence Committee is scheduled to mark up April 10 has received pledges of support from many telecommunications and information technology companies, but no prominent social media companies have publicly expressed their support for the measure so far.

Dealing With the Digital Accounts of the Dead

Should the executor or administrator of an estate have access to the digital accounts of the deceased? Or should those accounts, which often include social media, be off limits?

Norway Ombudsman: Counterfeit Ads on Facebook a Problem

Facebook is not doing enough to ensure that ads for counterfeit goods and scamming schemes stay off its site, the Norwegian Consumer Ombudsman stated in a follow-up letter to a meeting with the social media giant.

A Look Back on 2012 . . .

BNA's Social Media Law & Policy Report launched in 2012, which was a busy year for social media law. This blog post examines three major trends from last year.

Lawmakers Voice Dissatisfaction With Responses From Data Brokers

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers Nov. 8 said that how data brokers collect and use consumer information remains a mystery despite receiving details from nine companies, including several that collect information from social media websites.

DHS Report: Agency Complying With Privacy Promises in Social Media Monitoring

An agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security likely was monitoring social media communications when determining the impact of Hurricane Sandy, but a Nov. 8 DHS report promised that it was not collecting personally identifiable information (PII) from everyone who tweeted about #Sandy.

Courts Split on Social Media Bans for Sex Offenders

Is social media so pervasive in modern society that banning its use by a disfavored group is unconstitutional, even when there is a significant governmental interest in favor of the restriction?

Surveyed Hospitals Report Hike in Social Media Use, Most Seek to Build Their Brands

Use of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media outlets is up at hospitals and health systems surveyed in a study released Oct. 4 by the CSC Global Institute for Emerging Healthcare Practices. But hospitals are using social media mainly to help build their brands rather than impact treatment or patient outcomes, the study found.

New Jersey Social Media Privacy Bill Advancing

New Jersey lawmakers are closer to becoming the latest to approve legislation aimed at reining in demands by employers or educational institutions for social media passwords or access.

Solomon Faces Scrutiny Over Role in Wal-Mart Social Media Policy Case

Lafe Solomon, acting general counsel for the National Labor Relations Board, was the subject of an investigation by the agency's inspector general, and it is possible he may face further scrutiny by the Department of Justice. The IG has said that Solomon reviewed Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s social media policy while holding stock in the company.

HHS Anti-Bullying Contest Uses YouTube Submissions

Social media website YouTube appears to be the video-sharing platform of choice for at least one federal agency, which is requiring all entrants to an anti-bullying video contest to use YouTube for submissions in lieu of sending DVDs.

FTC Seeks to Clarify When Plug-Ins and Ad Networks Are Responsible Under COPPA Rule

The Federal Trade Commission Aug. 1 proposed additional modifications to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule, which were formally published Aug. 6, in a move that would clarify that plug-ins and advertising networks that collect personal information from children through another's site or service are covered by the rule.

Nutrisystem’s Pinterest Board Has Ad Disclosure Requirements

Disclosures required by the Federal Trade Commission's Guidelines Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising are necessary even when using emerging social networking platforms, according to a June 29 case report from the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus that dealt with Nutrisystem Inc.'s "Real Customers. Real Success" Pinterest board.

Judicial Notice of LinkedIn Profile? Sorry, No

Taco Bell wanted to argue that a plaintiff's consumer protection lawsuit was "an utter contrivance that is the classic example of a lawyer-driven strike suit." To illustrate, the fast food company asked the court to take judicial notice of the plaintiff's LinkedIn profile page showing he was a paid extern at a law firm.  The court refused.

Law Requires FDA Guidance on Social Media

Section 1121 of the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (S. 3187), signed into law by President Obama on July 9, tasks the agency with issuing guidance on its policy "regarding the promotion, using the Internet (including social media), of medical products that are regulated by such Administration."

Twitter Releases First Transparency Report

Government requests for Twitter Inc. user information in the first half of 2012 overwhelmingly have come from the United States, according to the company's first transparency report, which it released July 2.

Louisiana Continues Focus on Sex Offenders

Louisiana has garnered national attention for its new law that requires registered sex offenders to post the details of their conviction on their social media profiles.

Regarding Maryland's Law to Protect Social Network Accounts

When the Maryland law to protect social network usernames and passwords was first introduced I wrote it off as typical front-running by political officials, and did not read it closely. DLA Piper's lawyers did and so, after I read their article, did I. What a mess.


Accuracy of Social Media Data Questioned

What information can you really believe when looking over a Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social media profile? That question appeared to be at the heart of two recent cases that questioned the accuracy of data on social media services.