The Social Media Law Blog is a forum for lawyers, compliance
personnel, human resources managers, and other professionals who
are struggling with the legal implications of social media across a
broad variety of topics. Working professionals and Bloomberg BNA
editors may share ideas, raise issues, and network with colleagues
to build a community of knowledge on this rapidly evolving topic.
The ideas presented here are those of individuals, and Bloomberg
BNA bears no responsibility for the appropriateness or accuracy of
the communications between group members.
October 22, 2014
by Joyce Cutler
An 18-year-old college student is the latest person to find what you
say on social media can sometimes lead to bad results.
October 10, 2014
by Michael Loatman
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.
September 26, 2014
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.
September 5, 2014
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
August 29, 2014
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.
August 22, 2014
attorney in Virginia sought to have a $200,000 default judgment against Yelp
Inc. enforced. Instead, the court threw out his case.
August 1, 2014
A study finds that few jurors are sharing selfies in the jury
box to their Facebook friends or live tweeting a cross-examination
of a key witness.
July 28, 2014
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.
July 18, 2014
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.
July 11, 2014
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
June 27, 2014
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.
June 20, 2014
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.
June 13, 2014
Were Snapchat users aware that their friends could capture, save
and distribute their photos and weren't always limited to a mere 10
May 30, 2014
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."
May 23, 2014
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,...
May 16, 2014
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.
May 2, 2014
Should your child and her teacher be communicating by
tweets? A new law in New Jersey requires school districts to grapple
with that issue
April 25, 2014
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.
April 18, 2014
Should a jury be permitted to
evaluate the credibility of a plaintiff claiming his employer
aggravated his workplace wrist injury by requiring that he
immediately return to work when the employer found photos on social
media of him weightlifting? One court said yes.
April 11, 2014
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.
April 4, 2014
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.
March 28, 2014
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
March 21, 2014
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.
March 14, 2014
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.
March 7, 2014
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.
February 27, 2014
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
February 21, 2014
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.
February 14, 2014
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
January 16, 2014
State legislatures in 2014 will continue to address whether
employers and educational institutions should be permitted to
request the user names and passwords of employees and students.
January 10, 2014
When the head police officer in
Dallas decides to fire an employee, he tells the world.
December 6, 2013
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?
November 25, 2013
by Barbara Yuill
Was proof needed that a Twitter event can go awry?
Really awry? Or that social media should not be trifled
November 8, 2013
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
November 1, 2013
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
October 24, 2013
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
October 18, 2013
Recent policy changes could have the
effect of increasing the online presence of teenagers who post on
Facebook and adult users of Google+.
October 10, 2013
Only nine percent of respondents to a survey conducted by the
Australian government said they considered social media trustworthy
in protecting privacy.
October 4, 2013
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.
September 27, 2013
"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?
September 20, 2013
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
September 13, 2013
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.
August 30, 2013
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?
August 23, 2013
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.
August 15, 2013
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.
August 9, 2013
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.
August 1, 2013
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.
July 19, 2013
A mobile application touting the
release of rapper Jay-Z's new album has come under fire for the
app's requirement that users connect with their social media
accounts, among other privacy claims.
July 12, 2013
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
June 21, 2013
On June 28, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California will hold a hearing on the plaintiffs' motion for final approval of the class action settlement in Fraley v. Facebook Inc., No. 3:11-cv-01726-RS. Both the plaintiffs and Facebook have expressed their support for the final approval of the $20 million settlement agreement, subject to several caveats.
June 13, 2013
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
June 7, 2013
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.
May 31, 2013
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
May 23, 2013
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
May 17, 2013
Michael Loatman's write-up regarding a court's dismissal of a fraud lawsuit against a fired
employee over an alleged failure to update his LinkedIn profile, which
in BNA's Social Media Law & Policy Report, is available online to both subscribers and
May 16, 2013
New Mexico recently became the latest state to enact legislation barring post-secondary education institutions from demanding that current and prospective students turn over their passwords and other social media account information.
May 15, 2013
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.
May 10, 2013
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.
May 9, 2013
Katie Johnson’s write-up
regarding LivingSocial Inc.’s response to a recent cyber-attack, which appeared
in both BNA's Social Media Law & Policy Report and Privacy & Data
Security Law Resource Center, is available online to both subscribers and
May 3, 2013
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.
April 10, 2013
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.
March 18, 2013
Courts and one state (so far) have considered allowing social media websites like Facebook to be used for substituted service of process, though the authenticity of user accounts remains a key issue.
March 15, 2013
Netflix March 13 announced it will take advantage of recent amendments to
the 1988 Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA) by launching Netflix
Social, which it said will permit users to share their favorite
movies and shows with friends.
March 1, 2013
Social networking companies Facebook
Inc. and Twitter Inc. are among several major companies that have
admitted recently to being the victims of cyber-attacks.
February 22, 2013
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
February 1, 2013
The English High Court of Justice,
Chancery Division, Jan. 17 granted an injunction barring British tabloid The
Sun from publishing seminude photos of Academy Award-winning
actress Kate Winslet's new...
January 28, 2013
Facebook Inc.'s recent introduction
of "Graph Search" has raised questions among privacy advocates
about the new search tool's ability to find information about
January 18, 2013
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.
January 15, 2013
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.
December 14, 2012
month, California Assembly Member Nora Campos (D) introduced a bill apply the state's new password protection
provisions to public employees.
December 7, 2012
Pinterest, the social networking
site on which users post and share pictures on virtual "pin
boards," has updated its terms of service to allow business
accounts and commercial activity.
November 26, 2012
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.
November 23, 2012
Twitter suspended but now has reactivated @NYTOnIt, a parody account dedicated to poking fun at some of the New York Times’ lifestyle stories, after a trademark infringement complaint from the media giant.
November 16, 2012
The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) Dec. 13 is set to consider a proposed regulation that would require campaigns to disclose payments to bloggers and those who post campaign content on sites like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
November 8, 2012
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
November 2, 2012
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?
Report Says Few Jurors Use Social Media During Trials
Google+ Drops Real Name Policy
Social Media Advisory Board Launches
Dealing With the Rise of Digital Assets
Will the Right to Be Forgotten Apply to Social Media in the EU?