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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

The new age of cyberbullying

There has been an increase in cyberbullying with the rise of social media. According to the Canadian government, “cyberbullying involves the use of communication technologies … to repeatedly intimidate or harass others”. Federal and provincial governments have effected legislative change to make harmful cyberbullying behaviours criminal or at least provide civil remedies for those harmed. Other methods of deterring cyberbullying include education and policies implemented by social media platforms. Cyberbullying is not limited to children and teens. Similar to schools, workplaces should have policies and guidelines in place which provide for a safe environment for their employees.… Continue Reading

Social media activities and the appearance of bias

On June 21, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to decide the question of whether a district court judge is required to retroactively recuse himself when he allegedly follows the federal prosecutors on Twitter and, within hours after denying relief to the defendants, tweeted a link to an allegedly erroneous news article with a title implying that the defendants were liable. The relevant 9th Circuit opinion here is U.S. v. Sierra Pacific Industries, Inc., which was published on July 13, 2017.… Continue Reading

Mirror, mirror on the wall, what’s my taxable Insta value after all?

In sad news for celebrities and Instagram influencers across Australia, the introduction of the so-called ‘fame tax’ as part of a raft of integrity measures announced in the 2018/19 budget means that they could end up paying higher taxes on the income and non-cash benefits earned through the commercial exploitation of their image rights.

In this article, we explore the impact of the changes on individuals who currently use a separate entity to cash in on their image rights.… Continue Reading

Update: U.S. State Department to collect visa applicants’ social media information

In a previous post, we addressed efforts by the Department of Homeland Security to collect certain information relating to immigrants’ use of social media for record-keeping and tracking purposes. Subsequently, on March 30, 2018, the State Department released a notice of a proposed rule that would require the collection of social media information in connection with an application for a Nonimmigrant Visa through what is called a DS-160. … Continue Reading

Update: social media and the Anti-Terrorism Act

We have previously written about the United States District Court for the Northern District of California’s (the “District Court”) dismissal of the plaintiffs’ complaint in Fields v. Twitter, Inc. We are back to provide an update after the case made its way to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (the “Appellate Court”). The Appellate Court filed an Opinion on January 31, 2018, in which it affirmed the District Court’s dismissal of the plaintiffs’ claims.… Continue Reading

Exposed! How to combat the sharing of harmful content on social media

Online video celebrity Chrissy Chambers has recently settled a case against her ex-partner for damages suffered as a result of his posting sexually explicit video clips online.  The terms of the settlement are confidential but this and several other high-profile cases have generated much publicity around social media platforms’ responsibility to monitor and remove harmful or abusive content.

Content can be harmful in a number of ways, such as cyberbullying, threats of violence, hate speech and even “revenge porn” (the sharing, usually on a public platform, of intimate photos or videos of a person without their consent).

Corporate reputations are … Continue Reading

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