To Cite or Not to Cite?

With Facebook, Twitter and blogs becoming daily activities, it is important to remember the laws associated with social media so that you can abide by them.  You must be aware of what you are sharing, but most importantly HOW you are sharing this information.  Individuals and companies all over the world “unintentionally misuse copyrighted materials on social networking platforms” according to Michael Brenner’s blog: Social Sharing Might Get you Sued: Social Media and Copyright Law.  Brenner discusses three types of online copyrighted materials that all bloggers should be aware of; “all rights reserved”, “creative commons” and “fair use” and how to appropriately cite each.

Posting “borrowed” or stolen content online as your own work is more serious than plagiarizing on a school paper.  When you plagiarize on a paper you may fail the course or be penalized in some other way, when you plagiarize online in a blog or a tweet you may be penalized by being personally sued or fined up to $150,000.  It is very important to be aware of the laws and follow them just like all the other laws we follow and live by everyday.

If you aren’t careful and respectful of copyright laws you could subject yourself to being sued and penalized over a single Tweet or blog sentence.  It is important to give credit when credit needs to be given, even if you don’t think anyone is reading what you are putting out there.

Source: http://www.b2bmarketinginsider.com/social-media/social-sharing-might-get-you-sued-social-media-and-copright-law

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Be Careful Who You “Friend”

When do you draw the line with what you share on Facebook?  When do you know if you are sharing too much information on Twitter?  After the tragic events that occurred in Arizona yesterday, the news mentioned that Republican Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords had tweeted that morning: My 1st Congress on Your Corner starts now.  Please stop by to let me know what is on your mind or tweet me later.”  Authorities suspect that the shooter had seen this tweet and knew exactly where she would be and when.  The biggest mistake one can make with social networking sites is giving out too much information about what you are doing and where you are going.

Precautions can be made on Facebook, it is important to just “friend” actual friends, not to connect with strangers you can’t trust.  The problem with Twitter is that anyone can follow you, when you tweet “I’m at the bar, come see me” anyone who is following you (even strangers or stalkers) will know exactly where you are.  It is also important to not post comments of when you are leaving town, my mom has a friend that had her house broken into when she was on vacation after posting on Facebook that she was leaving.  The crime was committed by an old high school friend who she had accepted on Facebook but didn’t know that well.  After this event I went through my Facebook friends and deleted anyone I had accepted that I didn’t really know that well or hadn’t connected with for a long time.

It is always important to be careful who you are connected with on social networking sites, but when this is out of your control you can always control what you post.  Some precautions that could be made include: 1. Not accepting friend requests from strangers; 2. Not posting comments that give your exact location; and 3. Not posting comments that state you are leaving on vacation.  If you have any additional suggestions on how one can protect themselves on social networking sites, or similar stories please share below.

Privacy Settings Not So Private

Have you ever wondered what others could find out about you from the internet?  What information have you provided to websites that you may think is “private.”  You may want to think twice before posting personal information online.  For those of you who think your Facebook page is private, or your identity is protected when you purchase products online need to think again.

Just last night I had some friends over for dinner and we were discussing my recent increased use of Twitter and blog sites to personally brand myself.  I commented on by just doing these few things online I am now five of the top six hits on Google.  My friend than asked if I had checked to see if any of my personal information was out there that I might not know about; I was confident that my personal information was protected and was not concerned.  He then told me about the website Spokeo.com, which allows anyone to search a name and pull up physical addresses, email addresses, photos, links to social networking sites and even how much money they make.  I was confident that since I do not share my phone number or address on any of my social networking sites that I would not be found.  I was very wrong, when I typed in my first and last name my last two addresses popped up immediately, even my apartment number!  I was shocked and upset that anyone in the world could have searched for me and shown up at my front door.  I immediately went to Spokeo’s privacy setting and requested they remove the information but knowing that this information was available online without my knowledge worries me.

What else is out there that I don’t know about?  How did this site get my address?  My first thought was maybe when I have made past purchases online my address may have been put out into the cyber world, or maybe my information was sold to this company, but I really have no idea.  This just proves my point that nothing is private online, nothing is safe, personal information can be put out there without your knowledge for anyone to see.  Be careful what you put on the web and remember nothing is private, even though its claimed to be.

The Importance of Social Presence

There are two sides to every story, the same holds true for social media.  I previously discussed potential problems you may face when it comes to social media, like how posting inappropriate photos or comments can lead to losing your job.  It is important to note and realize how social media can and does prevent lawsuits and allows complaints complaints to be resolved quickly.

If a company is non-existent online and they are unaware of a customer’s anger or problem with a product or service, they cannot make it better.  There are many companies who do not have a presence in the cyber world, and this only hurts them and their relationship with the customers.  Companies like Advil who has a presence on social sites has benefited greatly because of this.  Not only do these sites allow customers to contact the company with their concerns but it can also prevent lawsuits, like when a man noticed that the warnings on an Advil bottle were easily mistaken for the directions.  Social media outlets allowed this customer to easily notify Advil before mass lawsuits were filed for people having “three or more alcoholic drinks every day while using this product.”

In 2008, 93% of Americans believed that companies should have a social media site presence and that said companies should interact with their customers with these mediums.  (2008 Cone Business in Social Media Study)  Today, I am confident that 100% of Americans would agree that companies should not only have, but actively utilize their social media presence to help attract and retain customers.  Not only are sites such as Facebook and Twitter a form of free marketing but also a means of convenient two way communication between consumer and company to help prevent larger problems in the future.

Sources: http://socialmedialegal.wordpress.com/2010/11/10/social-media-helps-prevent-a-lawsuit/

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Reason for Termination: Facebook

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Have you ever written a status update about your employer?  Complained about work, a colleague or the company name in general online?  This could potentially be career ending for individuals who may just be having a bad day.  There are a number of top stories of individuals who have found themselves unemployed and in the middle of a lawsuit because of that one negative post.

Recently, an EMT was fired after posting a negative comment about her supervisor on Facebook.  According to Julie Gottlieb’s article EMT Fired Over Facebook Post, The American Medical Response of Connecticut (AMRC) implemented a social media policy that did not allow employees to post anything on the internet containing the AMRC name without permission, regardless of the content.

Similarly, a waitress in North Carolina was fired after posting her negative opinion of her shift on Facebook.  Although no names were mentioned in her post, her employer let her go for violating a “company policy banning workers from speaking disparagingly about customers and casting the restaurant in a bad light on a social network.”  (Waitress Fired Over Facebook Status).  These are just two of the many who have been fired for what they felt like sharing online.  Some other examples include employees calling in sick and then surfing Facebook and for creating inappropriate Facebook groups: Fired Over Facebook: 13 Posts That Got People Canned.

Today it is necessary to implement a social media policy in every workplace.  This will enable protection for both the employer and the employee if an accusation or violation occurs.  As an employer, it is always important to take every precaution to protect the company, instituting a social media policy is the first step to adapt to this social media world we are living in.


Think before you Tweet!

Do you really think about every single status update you post on Facebook?  Do you ever think of the consequences of a Tweet?  Five years ago, a juror would never have been asked “have you ever commented on a blog?”  Attorneys are beginning to realize that possible jurors who have blogged could potentially be biased towards specific cases or details of a case.

According to Benish Shah, Esq. and Sheheryar Sardar, Esq. in their recent blog post: Jurors: Have you commented on a blog? “If a possible juror admits to having commented on a news story a violent crime, it raises a red flag for an attorney and allows them to probe more.”  These are important things to think about and remember when you are about to comment on a local news story or any blog in general.

I have already seen a change in the way attorneys collect information in the short five years that I have been working in a law firm.  I have been exposed to a number of cases where Myspace and Facebook posts and photos have been put into evidence and made a case for us.  This is happening all over and more and more everyday.

Whether you have blogged or even commented on a blog, it can and will affect your future.  It is always important to be conscious of what you put out into the cyber world, remember that nothing online is deletable.  Hopefully after reading this you will think a bit more before you actually hit that Share and or Post button.

How I Found Law

If you would have asked me a year ago today what I wanted to be when I “grow up” I would have chuckled a little and replied, “I am not sure.” A year ago I was a junior in Business school and a legal administrator at a local law firm. I had been working at this law firm since January 2006 and knew that I enjoyed going to work but never considered it to be a life-long career. I had been studying business management and accounting at the University of Nevada, Reno and thought that I wanted to be an accountant.

It was not until about six months ago when I sat down and thought hard about what I actually enjoyed doing. I knew that I loved going to work and loved learning more and more about the law and began to think what it would be like to actually go to law school. I talked to my parents and my boss and they all strongly encouraged me to pursue law school.

So here I am today, eager to complete my undergrad degree in May and start the application process to law school. I hope to be accepted to William S. Boyd School of Law at UNLV because I am a Nevada resident and this would be the best decision financially.

Social media law has emerged and has sparked my interest.  This type of law is spreading rapidly with the explosion of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.  There is a no end in sight of social media and or the laws that must be abided.  When I get accepted to law school I am confident that I will focus on a branch of social media law and hopefully I can inform others of these laws along the way.