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.
March 7, 2014
by Michael Loatman
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
by Katie Johnson
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
by Meg McEvoy
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?
October 22, 2012
Add New Hampshire to the list of states considering limiting
employer access to the social media accounts of employees and job
October 5, 2012
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.
September 28, 2012
A New Jersey assemblyman Sept. 27 introduced legislation to
include proper use of social media as a core curriculum topic for
students in sixth to eighth grades.
September 24, 2012
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
September 21, 2012
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.
September 7, 2012
Florida judges who use Facebook or
similar social networking sites may want to consider re-examining
their online friends.
August 31, 2012
Gov. Jerry Brown (D) must decide by
Sept. 30 whether to sign or veto a pair of bills meant to protect
employee and student social media accounts from the perceived
problem of overly curious employers and colleges.
August 24, 2012
Facebook's $1 billion acquisition of Instagram was notable because it employed only about 13 employees
and did not have any revenue. Did Facebook offer a king's ransom to
prevent a potential rival competitor from emerging?
August 10, 2012
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.
August 6, 2012
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
August 3, 2012
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.
August 2, 2012
Illinois is now the second state
after Maryland to limit employer access to the social media
accounts of employees and job applicants after Gov. Pat Quinn (D)
Aug. 1 signed into law H.B. 3782, which amends the Illinois Right to Privacy in the
July 27, 2012
Add a child's use of Facebook to the
list of topics dueling custodial parents might fight about. It also
might be an issue for a court's custodial decree.
July 26, 2012
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.
July 18, 2012
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."
July 6, 2012
Schools will be unable to request
user names or passwords from applicants or students if Gov. Jack
Markell (D) signs a bill that unanimously passed both chambers of
the Delaware Legislature.
July 5, 2012
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.
June 21, 2012
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.
June 20, 2012
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.
June 15, 2012
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.
June 11, 2012
The FBI recently released a brochure warning of "Internet Social Networking Risks."
June 4, 2012
"Case finally over. Unanimous verdict! Celebrating
"Another great victory in court today! My client is
delighted. Who wants to be next?"
Are these self-congratulatory raves, posted over a one month
period by an enthused (but hypothetical) attorney to 500 friends
and professional contacts on her personal social media site,
May 21, 2012
Myspace. Google. Twitter. Facebook. In the past two years, each has been the subject of an enforcement action by the Federal Trade Commission. But that's not all.
May 18, 2012
Congress often lags behind more nimble state legislatures when it comes to
the quick passage of new law on up-and-coming issues. Social media law, it turns
out, is no exception.
#AskJPM? On Second Thought, Don't
Iowa Supreme Court Tackles Live Tweeting, Blogging
Teens Can Go Public on Facebook, Adults Can Appear in Ads Via Google
Facebook Addresses Violent Video Controversy
Broader Access to Social Media in Iran?