The edit button: can the past be erased?

Social media users have a new demand for 2017 – they want the ability to edit their public messages. Spelling mistakes, missing words and misplaced pronouns can have embarrassing, unintended and sometimes dangerous consequences.  The ability to edit one’s message is an attractive feature.  This request has led some users on the social media platform Twitter to ask its CEO when an edit function would be introduced. Continue reading

FDA Proposes New Research on Social Media Promotion of Prescription Drugs

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) regulates the use of social media to disseminate information about prescription drugs and medical devices. Our blog previously covered the social media guidance released by the FDA in 2014, and a sampling of Warning and Untitled Letters that the FDA has issued to drug manufacturers advertising on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.

Our firm sister blog, Health Law Pulse, covered last year’s controversy surrounding Kim Kardashian’s Instagram post that endorsed the morning sickness drug Diclegis® without including relevant risk information in the text of her post. After the manufacturer of Diclegis® received an FDA Warning Letter, Kim posted a corrective ad stating the risk information associated with that drug. Continue reading

President Obama signs the “Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016”

On Thursday, December 15, 2016, President Obama signed into law H.R. 5111, now officially titled the “Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016.” The substantive provisions of the bill, which we discussed in a previous post, are virtually unchanged, but the law’s text provides further details regarding enforcement by the Federal Trade Commission and the states.

One noteworthy enforcement feature of the law is a cross-reference to the Federal Trade Commission Act. A violation of the Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016 by offering a form contract containing a provision described as void in the law is also a violation of 15 U.S.C. 45(a)(2), which essentially prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices. Continue reading

Fact Or Fiction: The Fake News Problem

In the few months leading up to the United States election, social media was flooded with articles with sensationalized titles and incendiary content. Many of these “news” stories were fake. They were written for the purpose of swaying public opinion or generating a profit from ad revenue and were often published by sham entities or news websites. Large, popular companies may be the next targets, so this post will describe a few actions companies could take. Continue reading

Social Media, Copyright, and Blockchain

Social media has changed how people and companies interact and has provided us with some technological innovations that have raised copyright issues. In an effort to keep our readers informed of some recent developments involving social media, we wanted to provide some background relating to some headlines combining social media, copyright, and blockchain, and we will provide some clarifications and explanations. Continue reading

Serving up lawsuits via Facebook: social media provides creative solution under Federal Rules

Service of process on a foreign defendant can be a major headache for U.S. plaintiffs, but social media is proving to be a creative solution when traditional methods have been demonstrated to fail.

We previously covered a New York federal court’s ruling that permitted the Federal Trade Commission to serve the Indian defendants, operating under the name PCcare, by email and Facebook. We also discussed a Kansas federal court’s ruling that denied service via Facebook as the sole means of service.

Since our last update, a federal trial court in Virginia has ruled in favor of allowing service by social media, adding to a growing trend in the U.S. federal courts. Continue reading

Who paid you to post that? Truth and Transparency in International Advertising

Social media personalities who have tweeted, grammed, Vine’d and snapped their way to stardom have no doubt caught the attention of businesses large and small. Much like how professional athletes and other celebrities are paid to endorse products, businesses and retailers have increasingly turned to recognized social media personalities (often called “influencers”) to recommend their products. Although social media influencers can get paid significant sums of money for product placement and rave reviews, sometimes the relationship with the company is not readily apparent to the public. Where the endorsement is not based on genuine user experience, this can have a misleading and negative impact on consumers. Continue reading

Copyright Office to Decrease DMCA Agent Registration Fees by 94%

As of December 1, 2016, the U.S. Copyright Office will be decreasing the fees to register a “notice and takedown” agent to $6.  Any website (including social media site) that accepts third party content may be interested in taking advantage of the “safe harbor” offered in the U.S., and those that have already registered an agent will need to update the registration.  You can find more details on our sister blog, the Brand Protection Blog, with this article:  http://www.thebrandprotectionblog.com/copyright-office-to-decrease-dmca-agent-registration-fees-by-94/

U.S. House takes steps to protect consumers’ rights to post negative reviews

We have all seen the reviews of products or services that disgruntled consumers post on review sites such as Yelp. Lately, however, some consumers have faced lawsuits for violating “gag orders,” or non-disparagement clauses, found in agreements between businesses and consumers. These clauses restrict consumers’ ability to publish any negative criticism about their experiences and are often placed in the fine print of form contracts.  These agreements provide that, when the consumer posts a negative review, or even speaks negatively about the business’s products, services, or conduct, the business would have a cause of action against the consumer for breach of contract. Continue reading

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