Tag archives: Instagram

Social Media and Anti-SLAPP Cases

In a recent defamation case where the defendant sought anti-SLAPP protection related to internet forum posts about the plaintiffs, a federal district court recognized that social-media speech is no different from “traditional” speech. See Piping Rock Partners, Inc. v. David Lerner Assocs., Inc., No. C 12-04634 SI (N.D. Cal. May 17, 2013) (Illston, J.).

“SLAPP” is an acronym for Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, defined in Black’s Law Dictionary (9th ed.) as “a suit brought by a developer, corporate executive, or elected official to stifle those who protest against some type of high-dollar initiative or who take an adverse … Continue Reading

Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (“ECPA”) prohibits interception of “any wire, oral, or electronic communication.”  18 U.S.C. § 2511.  Electronic communication is defined as “any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photo-electronic or photo-optical system.”  18 U.S.C. § 2510.  This does not include stored communications (see the Stored Communications Act), wire or oral communications, or tracking devices.  Users may also not use any device designed to intercept electronic communications, disclose to another the means to intercept electronic communications, or knowingly use the … Continue Reading

ECPA Reform Bill adds geolocation provisions

Congress woman Zoe Lofgren recently introduced a bill intending to align the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 with the current state of technology, especially with respect to cloud computing.  The Online Communications and Geolocation Protection Act, backed by tech companies such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, Intel, Twitter, eBay and Amazon, intends to clarify and apply 4th Amendment constitutional protections to online communications and location data.  If enacted, it would preclude the interception and/or disclosure of geolocation information.  Likewise, no entity would be permitted to use geolocation information obtained in violation of the … Continue Reading

The NLRB and employer social media policies

The highly respected Pew Center recently released its demographic data on social media usage. The data shows that regardless of age, race, sex, education, or income, well over half of the adults in the United States who use the internet, use social media.  It is therefore reasonable that employers would formally address their expectations of employees’ social media use through a social media policy.  Unfortunately, employer regulation of that use may chill the exercise of employees’ Section 7 rights in violation of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”).  Indeed, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) has approved few employer social … Continue Reading

SEC approves social media for company announce- ments if investors are alerted

On April 2, 2013, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) issued a report (the “Report”) indicating that companies can use social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, to announce key information in compliance with Regulation Fair Disclosure (“Regulation FD”), provided that investors have been informed of which social media outlet will be used to distribute the information.

Regulation FD provides that when a company (or a person acting on its behalf) selectively discloses material, nonpublic information to securities market professionals, or shareholders where it is reasonably foreseeable that the shareholders will trade on the basis of the information, the … Continue Reading

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”), 18 U.S.C. § 1030 et seq., projects the common law tort of real property trespass into the virtual realm of computers.

The CFAA has been successfully invoked for creation of fake user accounts on social network sites, email spam, email phishing, robotic data mining, and unauthorized hard-drive wiping.  In effect, the CFAA prohibits the following:

  1. Unauthorized access or exceeding access of a government computer, financial institution computer, or computer designated as containing restricted data for national defense or foreign relations.  § 1030(a)(1)-(a)(3).
  2. Unauthorized access or exceeding access of a protected computer with
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Owning your social media: Drafting a social media use policy

As more companies recognize the brand value created and sustained through social media, there is greater interest in preserving social media accounts for company use and retaining the follower, member or “friend” base that has been built over time.

Simultaneously, an increasing number of employees believe that the social media accounts are not company property but are the personal property of the employee—which may not be the company’s view.

Recent cases such as PhoneDog LLC v. Noah Kravitz, No. C 11-03474 MEJ (N.D. Cal. Nov. 8, 2011, settlement announced Dec. 3, 2012) illustrate the importance of a social media … Continue Reading

CDA § 230 Safe Harbor

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (“CDA”), otherwise known as § 230 Safe Harbor, explains that “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”  47 U.S.C.A. § 230(c)(1).  In addition, § 230 precludes liability for providers who take down offensive material in good faith.  Section 230(c)(2) states that:

No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of–

(A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that

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Defamation in a Social Media World

Companies of every size are concerned with protecting the reputation of the company, which is often a company’s greatest source of referrals. Protecting the online reputation of a company has become increasingly difficult because the reputation of a company can be ruined very quickly if an unhappy customer, former employee, or competitor of the company decides to broadcast complaints and potentially defamatory information either anonymously or on personal pages.

It  has also become increasingly important for a company to monitor and protect its online reputation because consumers have become increasingly reliant on online review websites, such as Yelp, and social … Continue Reading

Anonymous Negative Reviews

Austin-based cleaning company Austin Gutter King Corporation, Inc. made headline news in Texas this week by filing a lawsuit against the poster of a negative review of its business on Google Places, the search engine’s business listing and review website.

The review originally came from a user named “Norma Lee,” but a court-ordered request from Google for the legal identity of the individual revealed that “Norma” was actually the husband of an employee of Austin Gutterman, a competitor of Austin Gutter King.

The review, in part, stated:

…they find it necessary to post fake customer reviews. While researching the source

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NLRB Still Scrutinizing Social Media Policies

On November 15, 2012, the National Labor Relations Board again rejected an employer’s social media policy because it could be construed to chill employees’ rights to join together for mutual aid and protection.

Dish Network’s employee handbook banned employees from making “disparaging or defamatory comments” about the company.

Relying on the NLRB’s  recent decision invalidating Costco Wholesale Corp.’s electronic posting policy , the Administrative Law Judge found that the limitation on negative commentary was analogous to the provision struck down in the Costco decision. See Costco Wholesale Corporation and United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 371, Case 34–CA–012421/… Continue Reading


OpenID is an third-party identification protocol that allows users to log on to multiple websites with only one username and password.  Users register with one OpenID website, called an Identity Provider.  The user can then log on to any website that accepts OpenID using the identity from the provider.  The “OpenID Acceptor,” as it is called, will send a request to the Identity Provider, which in turn authenticates the username and password and provides a certificate to the OpenID Acceptor.  This certificate, it is important to note, includes varying amounts of personal information, such as email or home addresses, phone … Continue Reading