Social media influencers and FTC disclosures

On November 4, 2019, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) issued guidance for social media influencers to help them comply with FTC requirements relating to endorsements and disclosures. We have previously covered FTC action and guidance (including advisory letters) in this area, but the FTC has refined and updated its advice a bit: Continue reading

Federal District Court in California finds favoring younger, “social media savvy” employees may constitute age-based harassment

In recent posts, we have discussed how social media use and the enforcement of social media policies can have major implications in wage and hour lawsuits against U.S. employers. Now, a recent case in U.S. District Court in California suggests that social media can also play a role in discrimination suits. Continue reading

Deception sells: The current theme in the age of social media

In this age of social media, companies and brands have faced countless criticisms for their lack of transparency, copyright infringements disguised in the form of “flattery or inspiration” and we can’t forget the many inclusivity flops.

Brands, including beauty brands, are now dedicating more of their marketing budgets to paying influencers for their “honest” reviews in hopes that they can convince the public to purchase their products. What’s more striking is that consumers are heavily relying on social media for help in determining where to place their value and money. With these stakes, some companies have turned to deceptive practices in a search for social media popularity. Continue reading

A legal framework for artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a field of computer science referring to intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans. Social media platforms use artificial intelligence technologies such as natural language processing to understand text data, and image processing for facial recognition.

In some instances, regulation tries to create a “legal” definition of AI. For example, a law requiring disclosure of chat bots defines “bot” as “an automated online account where all or substantially all of the actions or posts of that account are not the result of a person.” Article 22 of GDPR provides for the right not to be subject to a decision based solely on “automated processing, including profiling” with legal or significant impact. AI laws also refer to driverless vehicles. These legal definitions of AI determine whether the law applies to the particular AI process or system. Continue reading

Ninth Circuit severs the “debt collection” exemption of the TCPA in dispute over social media text messages

On June 13, 2019, the 9th Circuit handed down a decision in Duguid v. Facebook, Inc., 926 F.3d 1146 (9th Cir. 2019), which has at least partially brought into question the future of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”).

Around January 2014 Facebook started sending Noah Duguid sporadic text messages, alerting Duguid that an unrecognized browser was attempting to access his Facebook account. The messages followed a template akin to “Your Facebook account was accessed [by/from] <browser> at <time>. Log in for more info.” While this type of message may be alarming to the everyday Facebook user believing their account may be hacked, these text messages alarmed Duguid for a completely different reason – he does not have a Facebook account. Continue reading

Deepfakes: Fake videos need real remedy

Your friend tells you they saw a video of you on social media. You look it up. The person in that video looks like you. That person even sounds like you. To make matters worse the video shows this counterfeit version of you doing something incredibly embarrassing. You have never done what the video is portraying and yet here it is online forever. You have just been victimized by a deepfake.

What is a Deepfake?

Deepfakes (short for ‘deep learning’ and ‘fake’[1]) use AIs trained in audio and video synthesis to manufacture fake videos. The AI system itself is based on adversarial generative learning.[2] These AIs are able to learn how a face moves from a bank of photos that a user inputs. It then superimposes that face onto the body of someone else in an unrelated video. Continue reading

Social Media Activity Used as Evidence of Employees Violating Cell Phone Policy

In an August 1, 2019 post titled “Without Proper Enforcement, Even the Strongest Social Media Policies May Not Protect Employers,” we discussed how enforcement of corporate social media policies was paramount to protecting employers from liability stemming from employee violations of that policy. That post discussed how employers must take care not only to formulate comprehensive social media policies, but also to provide thorough training and ensure rigorous enforcement of those policies to its employees and managers.

In keeping with that theme, this article examines a specific illustration of the importance of maintaining and enforcing corporate social media policies. Continue reading

To regram or not to regram? Legal implications of reposting content to social media

Most of us are familiar with Instagram – a social media engine, primarily utilized in its all-too-familiar form of a phone application, that allows users to share images and videos of themselves or others for public viewing and potential recognition.

With the increased popularity of photo-sharing social media tools like Instagram, users have begun to wonder more about what, if any, intellectual property rights they may own to the content they publish to such sites. In a previous post, we discussed the legal implications of posting content to social media and found that the user is often the primary owner of their content.

This begs the question – if each user is the owner of the content he/she posts, what, if any, are the legal implications of reposting the content of another user? Continue reading

Without proper enforcement, even the strongest social media policies may not protect employers

In a March 8, 2019 post titled “New California laws may require review of social media policies,” we explored how a host of new California laws would require a close review and revision of corporate social media policies.

That post discussed the role social media policies play in helping employers sidestep legal landmines by preventing wage and hour violations, unauthorized disclosure of the company’s trade secrets and other confidential information, violations of the Federal Trade Commission Act arising from an employee’s promotion of company products, infringement of third party intellectual property rights, employee harassment, and privacy violations.

Equally important, if not more so, is the enforcement of those policies. Simply put, even an airtight social media policy may not protect a company from liability for employee violations of that policy. Two recent cases in California federal district courts illustrate some of these potential pitfalls. Continue reading

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