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“Creator Codes” aim to create a kinder social media

As influencer marketing skyrockets in importance, social media companies have taken steps to make their platforms more attractive to this new wave of advertising. One way of making platforms attractive to both users and creators is to keep the platforms free of negativity. Negativity on social media has been a major reason for users to abandon sites and can make creators hesitant to use platforms where they do not feel supported. Additionally, 2020 saw many headlines regarding misinformation, hate-speech, and lack of moderation. As advertisers boycotted platforms and calls for action grew louder, social media platforms began to look for … Continue Reading

Social media apps, CDA § 230, and products liability

On May 4, 2021, the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s judgment for Snap, Inc., owner of the mobile application Snapchat, in a case brought by the parents of two teenage boys tragically killed in a car accident. The parents claimed that Snap, Inc. caused the death of their sons through its negligent design of Snapchat. They claimed that that their sons were encouraged to drive at dangerously high speeds by a Snapchat filter which purports to show the user’s real-time speed (the “Speed Filter”). The boys in this case drove at speeds reaching 123 miles per hour and eventually … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court ended battle concerning President Trump’s blocking of individuals on Twitter

Introduction

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ended the legal battle between former President Donald Trump and individuals whom Mr. Trump had blocked on Twitter, by granting the government’s petition for a writ of certiorari filed when Mr. Trump was still the President, vacating the Second Circuit’s judgment against Mr. Trump, and remanding the case with instructions to dismiss the matter as moot.  See Biden v. Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, et al., 593 U.S. __ (2021).

The legal discussions offered in this case may be significant for future disputes concerning speech made on interactive online venues made … Continue Reading

Social media and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

Given all the recent headlines about data theft as well as a resurgence of interest in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), a December 18, 2020 ruling from a federal trial court in Colorado may be of interest to our readers. MCS Safety Solutions, LLC v. Trivent Safety Consulting, LLC, No. 19-cv-00938-MEH (D. Colo. Dec. 18, 2020) (2020 WL 7425874).… Continue Reading

The business reason to monitor and remove illicit content

Social media platforms have revolutionized the way people receive and deliver their news and information. Industry players, legislators, and consumers of social media have all had to adapt to this new medium of speech. While having the permanence and public nature of traditional forms of news, such as newspapers, social media posts are not subject to the same kinds of editorial review and control. The sheer volume and pace of social media posts has made it impractical for social media companies to maintain a similar amount of content review as newspapers or television broadcasts.

Although this new environment has provided … Continue Reading

The do’s and don’ts of doing it for the ‘gram: Limiting deceptive marketing risks on social media

Social media influencer marketing that misleads the public is on the Canadian Competition Bureau’s (the Bureau’s) list of key priorities for the foreseeable future. Brands and marketing agencies that work with influencers (as well as influencers themselves) should abide by best practices to reduce the risks of getting wrapped up in a Bureau investigation for misleading advertising.    You can read the full client briefing here.

 … Continue Reading

Social media, photos, privacy, and conversion

There seem to be a lot of questions lately about the use of photographs on social media, so a recent federal court case may be of interest in raising some risks you may not have contemplated. The case involves some photos that professional models had posted to their social media pages, which they alleged had been copied and altered by a nightclub to make it appear that they worked at or endorsed the nightclub. (Moreland v. Beso Lounge & Restaurant LLC, case no. 3:19-cv-00958 (VLB) (D. Conn. Sept. 4, 2020) (2020 WL 5302312).)… Continue Reading

The risks of relying on social media income

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many of us to adjust our usual work-life balance. Rather than maintaining the strict division between home and office, individuals have adapted to a new hybrid lifestyle, combining all under one roof. This new lifestyle has afforded many people with additional free time that would otherwise be spent commuting to the office. Unsurprisingly, people are choosing to use this free time to browse their favourite social media platforms. In Q1 of 2020, daily time spent in apps increased 20% on Android devices in comparison to last year.… Continue Reading

FTC, celebrity influencers, and health claims

As the world struggles to move forward, our thoughts and support are with our readers and we hope for their good health and improving situations.

Today’s post involves an FTC settlement that was announced just as New York was going into “lockdown” mode and so we wanted to make sure it did not escape your attention. In March of 2020, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced a settlement of its federal court complaint against a company that the FTC alleged made unsubstantiated health claims for its teas and skincare products—and used celebrity social media influencers whose endorsements did not … Continue Reading

(Virtual) house rules: Things to know for Houseparty hangouts

Houseparty, the group video chat app that allows users to interact in “rooms”, is unsurprisingly becoming one of the most popular social media platforms in the current global environment. Distinguishing features are: (i) the ability to move between chat sessions happening simultaneously in other rooms; and (ii) the ability to play party games while chatting, which is a welcome distraction from the more serious conversation topics that tend to dominate our interactions at the moment!… Continue Reading

Pixels + Social Media Influencers – Authenticity = Virtual Influencers

Social media influencer marketing has had a significant impact in the way brands reach consumers worldwide. Social media influencers are very important to platforms such as YouTube and Instagram and even more so to brands. As independent contractors, social media influencers garner more outreach than any company’s advertising team could ever hope to accomplish. From engagements like brand awareness and product placement and “authentic reviews,” according to Business Insider, the influencer marketing industry is expected to be worth up to $15 billion by 2022—up from $8 billion in 2019. Influencers, once a niche group, are now everywhere—we can spot … 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 … Continue Reading

The Right to Write

How important are online reviews in your shopping experience? Many rely heavily on consumer reviews in order to generate business. But what happens when instead of providing customers the candid information that they deserve, companies try to silence their critics in order to improve their online reputation?

In recent years, companies selling products and services have included non-disparagement clauses (“gag clauses”) in their contracts in hopes of curtailing online criticism. Gag clauses are aimed at discouraging customers from writing honest reviews that criticize the company—and punished customers for their negative reviews in the form of liquidated damages. The problem is … Continue Reading

Federal judge limits advertisement on social media in trade dress lawsuit

On April 10, 2019, a Texas federal judge granted Sparrow Barns & Events an emergency temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in a trade dress and copyright infringement case, preventing defendant Ruth Farm from advertising its venue rental business on social media and the internet. Sparrow Barns & Events, LLC v. Ruth Farm Inc., No. 4:19-CV-00067 (E. D. Tex. Apr. 10, 2019) (2019 WL 1560442).)… Continue Reading

Social media influencer advertising in Canada

Influencer marketing is increasing in popularity in Canada and can be an effective way to promote your brand. Influencers are online personalities that use social media to share their expertise and opinion about products or brands with their followers. In order to tap into the influencer’s network, businesses pay or otherwise compensate influencers to share content that features their products or brand. Influencer marketing comes in all shapes and sizes. For example, it includes a social media model promoting a certain brand of makeup or an athlete recommending a particular piece of workout gear. Recently, even the Government of CanadaContinue Reading

Banning critics from social media can constitute a First Amendment violation

The question of whether a public official may legally suppress dissent or criticism by banning dissenters from social media pages administered by the public official has recently entered the United States’ legal discourse. The Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently answered this question in Davison v. Randall, which was the first decision on the issue made at the federal appellate level. The implications of this decision could prove to be particularly significant, as President Trump is currently appealing a decision by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. In President Trump’s case, the district … Continue Reading

Intermediary liability for internet services under NAFTA 2.0

USMCA provision

As organizations around the globe grapple with disinformation and fake news, the digital trade provisions in NAFTA’s successor may help assuage fears that internet content providers could be held responsible for such content. The US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) contains important provisions dealing with the issues of free speech and digital trade.… Continue Reading

SEC vs. Elon Musk: Sometimes securities laws and social media posts don’t mix

When Elon Musk, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Tesla, Inc. (“Tesla”), posted to social media on August 7, 2018, that he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 per share and had secured funding, he caused a ripple in the markets and gained the attention of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). As a result of the statement, the SEC filed a lawsuit against Musk in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York for allegedly violating Section 10(b) of the federal Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the … Continue Reading

Texas lawyers and social media

Texas lawyers are permitted to ask their lawyer friends on social media for help with legal questions on behalf of their clients, according to a recent opinion from the State Bar of Texas’ Professional Ethics Committee (“PEC”). The PEC is a committee appointed by the Texas Supreme Court that issues opinions on various ethics and professional responsibility questions posed by members of the State Bar of Texas.

Opinion No. 673, issued in August, addressed two questions: 1) Does a lawyer violate the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct by seeking advice on behalf of a client from other lawyers … Continue Reading

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