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German law on hate speech – complaint procedures

The German law on hate speech (Network Enforcement ActNetzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz) which came into effect on October 1, 2017 is continuously subject to criticism. Its legal and political implications in regard of the current global debate on the dealing with different opinions, the power and influence of social media on information and disinformation and its place in the context of an increasing fragmentation of the internet are widely discussed throughout media (i.e. see our posts here and here).

Since January 1, 2018, social media providers are now obliged to maintain a procedure for complaints. This procedure … Continue Reading

Celebrity Endorsements, Cryptocurrencies, and Initial Coin Offerings

Our readers may recall that 2017 brought warning letters from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to celebrities who had posted some photos on Instagram and the FTC has recently taken action regarding some undisclosed “material connections.”  A post on our sister blog, Regulation Tomorrow, describes the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission’s recent warnings about celebrity endorsements of cryptocurrency and “initial coin offerings” and contrasts the SEC and FTC guidance and regulatory scope:

https://www.regulationtomorrow.com/us/celebrity-endorsements-cryptocurrencies-and-initial-coin-offerings/Continue Reading

A Love and Hate Relationship With Social Media

As we have previously written, the Pew Research Center found in 2016 that 62% of American adults consumed news on social media to some extent.

In September of 2017, the Pew Center updated its research, finding that, in 2017, about 67% or two-thirds of American adults are reporting getting “at least some of their news on social media,” a 5% increase from last year.

According to the research, this 5% growth was driven by more substantial increases among certain demographic groups. The research shows that 55% of American adults over 50 now consume news on social media sites, … Continue Reading

Chatbots gone wild? Some ethical considerations

Chatbots are computer applications programmed to mimic human behaviour using machine learning and natural language processing. Chatbots can act autonomously and do not require a human operator. Given this freedom, chatbots do not always act in a manner that is fair and neutral – they can go wild with unintended consequences. For example, a chatbot “e-shopper” was given a budget of $100 in bitcoin and quickly figured out how to purchase illegal drugs on the Darknet. Another chatbot was programmed to mimic teenager behaviour using social media data. By the afternoon of her launch, she was firing off rogue tweets … Continue Reading

FTC and Social Media Influencer Endorsements

On September 7, 2017, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it had entered into a proposed consent agreement with two individuals and their company that allegedly ran an online gaming community website that allowed users to gamble virtual currency.  According to the FTC complaint, the two individuals promoted the gaming site and not only failed to disclose their ownership interest in the site or that they were playing with company money, but they also paid other social media influencers between $2,500 and $55,000 to promote the site.

As we had previously written, in the Spring of 2017, … Continue Reading

Social media: life after death?

Have you considered what you would like to happen to your social media accounts when you die? Where the platform gives you options, have you selected one? A while ago we wrote about what happens to your social media account when you die.

Many platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn have different policies about what will happen to a deceased person’s profile. Since our last post, some of these policies have changed. Here is the current status as of the date of this post:… Continue Reading

Legal chatbots: something for nothing?

In June, we introduced the topic of chatbots and highlighted some key risks and concerns associated with this growing area of technology.  One business in particular, DoNotPay, made headlines recently by announcing that it would begin building legal chatbots for free.

The claim? In a July 14, 2017, posting to the online publishing platform Medium, Joshua Browder, founder of UK-based DoNotPay, writes, “Starting today, any lawyer, activist, student or charity can create a bot with no technical knowledge in minutes.  It is completely free.”  Sound too good to be true?  To be sure, DoNotPay is not the first company … Continue Reading

How Animal Influencers Are Changing the Way Brands Advertise

At this point you are probably familiar with the world of social media influencers. You might follow several on Instagram, or maybe your company partners with them to promote its products. But have you realized that the most valuable influencers may not even be human? This post will focus on animal influencers – they are cute, they come in a variety of species, and they are being paid to advertise products via social media.

Why animals?

Aspiring animal influencers can rise from obscurity to fame in an instant – all it takes is one viral post. The demand for … Continue Reading

Stay safe on social media – New ACCC guidelines

Businesses shelling out big bucks for prime advertising space are used to paying close attention to content, for the sake of the bottom line as well as out of respect for consumer law. However, it may not feel as natural and cost-effective to apply the same scrutiny to an Instagram caption. Why invest the business resources when teenagers worldwide can master the art?

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has recently issued new social media guidelines for businesses which emphasise the answer repeatedly: as far as the regulator is concerned, businesses have the same responsibilities on social media as … Continue Reading

Social media and insurance

The mining of social media and the use of big data (vast amounts of available internet data that can be analysed and exploited) by insurers to analyse consumer behaviour will change the face of insurance. The basic principles of insurance include the good faith sharing of information between insurer and insured, a pooling of good risks with bad risks, and assessing a fair premium for policyholders.  Paradoxically, regulations that require insurers to price more competitively and estimate their reserves more precisely to see that they are sufficiently capitalised are leading insurers to find ways to price insured risks more accurately.… Continue Reading

Advertising on the Internet – What Makes a Disclosure “Clear and Conspicuous”?

Increasingly, companies are turning to the internet and social media platforms to advertise their products, often by using native advertising or by providing incentives such as payments or free products to social media “influencers” (Instagrammers, Pinners, Bloggers and Vloggers, to name a few) in exchange for an endorsement.

As we have previously discussed, the FTC has issued Endorsement Guides that provide guidance on appropriate advertising on social media. The FTC has stated that advertising on social media platforms is subject to the same consumer protection laws that prohibit deceptive advertising and that advertising claims must be accompanied by “clear … Continue Reading

Court orders ex-employee to update LinkedIn profile

A South African High Court  on March 8, 2017 reportedly gave a former estate agent five days to correct the employment information on his LinkedIn profile.

Three years after Mr. van der Schyff resigned from his position at Danie Crous Auctioneers, his profile still reflected that he was employed there. Despite two years’ worth of requests from the company to correct the information, eventually followed by a demand from its lawyer, van der Schyff refused to do so.  The company then approached the court for an order to compel the profile correction.… Continue Reading

Twitter and hate speech policy

This year seems to have started off in much the same way as 2016 ended. Celebrities, politicians, and everyday people have flocked to social media to provide their commentary on everything from global crises to envelope sagas.

Towards the end of 2016, Twitter announced that no person is above their policies, particularly in respect of hate speech, and threatened to remove Donald Trump’s verified account if the President continued to violate them. But what exactly do the Twitter policies say?… Continue Reading

Social Media, Age, and the Entertainment Industry

Can a state law prevent a social media site from publicly posting accurate age information about individuals in the entertainment industry—even if that information is posted by users? The California legislature and Governor believed it was permissible, and the legislation went onto effect on September 24, 2016 (Cal. AB 1687, adding Cal. Civ. § 1798.83.5).  Five months later, a federal judge temporarily enjoined the government from enforcing that law, in IMDb.com Inc. v. Becerra, No. 16-cv-06535-VC (N.D. Cal. Feb. 22, 2017).… Continue Reading

Tort claims may be adapting to a world of social media

The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled, on January 18, 2017, on a defendant’s motion to dismiss replevin, conversion, and trespass claims related to the misuse of various domain names and social media accounts.  Salonclick LLC d/b/a Min New York , 16 Civ. 2555 (KMW), 2017 WL 239379 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 18, 2017).

The plaintiff in the case (“Plaintiff”) operated a business that manufactured and sold a variety of grooming products, including hair and skin care products. The Plaintiff used various domain names and tag lines in its business, including www.newyorkheart.org and a corresponding Facebook … 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 … 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 … Continue Reading

Artificial Intelligence and Social Networks

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence (“AI”) or cognitive computing involves the use of computer program code to control machines to mimic cognitive functions, such as learning, classification, and problem solving. AI is a technical field of computer science and includes machine learning and natural language processing.… Continue Reading

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

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 … 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 … Continue Reading

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