You’re Uninvited: Managing Unauthorized Third Party Access

Most people would not bring along a group of uninvited strangers to a dinner party or, even worse, a wedding. Society has certain expectations around attendance, guest lists, RSVPs, and the like.  And yet, in the digital realm, these social norms may not have the same effect.   What can be done about digital party crashers?  In particular, how can the owner of a social network ward off competitors who seek access to network content by riding users’ coattails? Continue reading

Germany orders Facebook to stop collecting WhatsApp user data

The Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (Hamburg DPA) recently issued an administrative order prohibiting Facebook from collecting and storing user data of German WhatsApp users.

The Hamburg DPA also ordered Facebook to also delete all data that has already been forwarded to Facebook by WhatsApp. Continue reading

Will reverse class actions facilitate online IP enforcement in Canada?

While the internet has created ample opportunities for IP rights holders to exploit their intellectual property rights online, it also poses significant challenges relating to the protection of those same IP rights from would-be infringers. The internet’s global reach combined with the sophistication and anonymity of most online users has created an environment where it is becoming increasingly difficult to hold individual infringers accountable. Continue reading

Not all employee complaints on Twitter are concerted activity

Earlier this year, we discussed that a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) administrative law judge found that an employee’s tweets could be considered protected “concerted activity” in Chipotle Services LLC d/b/a Chipotle Mexican Grill.  As a reminder, the administrative law judge determined that portions of Chipotle’s outdated Social Media Code of Conduct policy violated the U.S. National Labor Relations Act (NRLA).  The judge also found that Chipotle’s request that the employee remove his Twitter posts (i.e. “tweets”) also violated the NLRA. On August 18, 2016, a three-member panel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) affirmed that Chipotle’s Social Media Code of Conduct violated the NLRA, but the NLRB reversed the administrative law judge’s finding related to the Twitter posts. Continue reading

Are your social media followers/fans/members authentic?

We have previously written on social media account verification for businesses, in order to help customers deal only with the authentic brand.  But what about authenticating your social media followers/users/fans/members?

Unfortunately, there are currently “no methodologies available that would provide us with an exact number of non-actual member types of accounts,” according to LinkedIn’s 10-K filing for 2015.  (10-K at 18.)  LinkedIn goes on to state that some of its “non-actual member types of accounts” are:  Continue reading

Twitter Update: Go get your business account verified (…if you haven’t already)

In an earlier blog post this year, we covered Authentication on Social Media Platforms and the need for businesses to authenticate their social media accounts to protect their brand, credibility, reputation and accountability while advertising or otherwise engaging with their customers in the online space.

Various social media platforms offer the blue “verified” badge in order to help users more easily find public figures and brands, and protect these profiles from the high likelihood of impersonation. The blue badge verifies or authenticates the account as belonging to public figures, celebrities, government, businesses or their brands. While Facebook allows users to submit an application for authentication, other social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat verify accounts on their own accord and do not let users request a verified badge (or special emoji in the case of SnapChat).

Recently, Twitter announced that it had created an online application process for authentication. Continue reading

Willful act and business activity exclusions in defamation claim

Although we have covered many social media cases involving defamation claims (just click on the “Defamation” category to see them), here is a link to a post from one of our sister blogs (Financial Institutions Legal Snapshot) that relates to an issue we thought would be of interest to our readers:  insurance coverage for fake social media posts alleged to be defamatory:

Wilful act and business activity exclusions applied to defamation claim

That’s My Mark! Enforcing Trademark Rights on Social Media

It is no doubt surprising and frustrating for brand owners when they find that someone has appropriated their trademarks on social media. A few of the common scenarios include:

  • small competitors modifying logos and passing them off as their own;
  • unauthorized distributors using logos and trademarks on their social media advertising; and
  • social media users registering account names that incorporate trademarks.

Pursuing the usual enforcement techniques can be difficult on social media, particularly when the identity of the infringer is unclear or unknown. The good news for brand owners is that most social media websites prohibit the infringement of another’s intellectual property rights in their terms of service. Continue reading

Did Twitter violate Anti-Terrorism Act by providing ISIS accounts?

On August 10, 2016, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, in Fields v. Twitter, Inc., dismissed the plaintiffs’ complaint against Twitter with leave to amend. The plaintiffs’ complaint arose out of the deaths of Lloyd Fields, Jr. and James Damon Creach, two United States government contractors who were working at a law enforcement training center in Amman, Jordan. Fields and Creach were murdered at the hands of Anwar Abu Zaid, a Jordanian police captain who was inspired to commit the act after watching the ISIS execution of the Jordanian pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh via a video that ISIS distributed through a Twitter account.

The plaintiffs’ claim alleged that Twitter violated parts of the Anti-Terrorism Act by knowingly provided material support to ISIS by permitting ISIS to use its social network as a tool for spreading extremist propaganda. Twitter’s primary argument for the dismissal of the plaintiffs’ claim was the application of Section 230(c)(1) of the Communications Decency Act (the “CDA”), which states that “[n]o provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” Twitter argued that since Twitter’s actions constituted publishing activity, the plaintiffs’ claim is barred by the CDA. Continue reading

What’s In Your Terms of Service?

Social media platforms often require users to agree to Terms of Service or Terms of Use (“TOS”) to use the platform. These contracts can be lengthy and many social media users may not read them in their entirety before agreeing and proceeding to use the platform. This can raise particular issues in contract law, especially about the legal enforceability of the provisions.

The legal enforceability of TOS provisions is relevant to both social media users and app developers. Individuals or businesses who use social media should consider how the TOS affect their legal rights and obligations, especially regarding privacy and dispute resolution. On the other hand, if you’re developing an app for your business, you need to consider what provisions you should include in your TOS and how they should be drafted to ensure legal enforceability.

In particular, “choice of forum” provisions in TOS may be contentious in Canadian courts. Such provisions purport to set out where dispute resolution must take place. Continue reading