In the last week of March 2021, a bill was introduced in the California assembly that would require social media platforms to publicly disclose the specific user conduct that will get users temporarily or permanently banned from those sites—including online hate, disinformation, extremism, harassment, and foreign interference.… Continue Reading
On March 4, 2021, a federal trial court in New York issued a preliminary injunction that halted a bridal gown designer and social media influencer from using her social media accounts without her former employer’s permission. JLM Couture, Inc. v. Gutman, No. 20 CV 10575-LTS-SLC (S.D.N.Y. March 4, 2021) (2021 WL 827749).… Continue Reading
Across the world, as digital companies’ advertising revenues climb, traditional news organizations’ revenues fall. As a result, many traditional news organizations, like broadcasters and newspapers, are going out of business. The public’s appetite for journalism, however, has not waned. If anything, the public needs reliable news sources more than ever in this era of “fake news” and internet-borne misinformation. Often it is the very digital platforms that share news organizations’ content that are perceived as putting news organizations out of business.
Governments around the world are contemplating various policies and legislation to save struggling traditional news organizations. Many of these … Continue Reading
Sharing information and reaching consumers is even easier today thanks to the prevalence of social media. However, sharing certain information with the public can result in the removal of trade secret protections.
According to a recent federal court decision, posting photographs of testing equipment and sharing information about testing procedures are two examples of where protection for potential trade secrets was lost. (S&G Labs Hawaii v. Graves).
Before sharing company information on social media to attract more customers, always consider the need to protect that information from competitor access.
Trade secrets and their application to advertising
Trade secrets … Continue Reading
In the last month of 2020, Canadian courts decided two proceedings involving alleged copyright infringement and social media platforms. Both proceedings were small scale and involved foreign copyright holders. One proceeding was heard by the British Columbia Civil Resolution Tribunal (BCCRT) and the other was heard by the Federal Court of Canada (FC) under its simplified procedure for small claims.… Continue Reading
We had previously written about a bill the California legislature passed that would bar a social media company from opening an account for anyone it “actually knows” is under the age of 13, absent parental consent. On September 29, 2020, Governor Newsom vetoed AB-1138. Unsurprisingly, the California legislature did not take action to override the veto. While AB-1138 may be dead, California consumer privacy laws remain in flux. On November 3, California voters will weigh in on Proposition 24 which would expand the state’s already robust consumer privacy laws. We will provide an update on Proposition 24 after the results … Continue Reading
In September 2020, the California legislature sent a bill to the Governor’s desk which would bar a social media company from opening an account for anyone it “actually knows” is under the age of 13, absent parental consent. The bill, passed with bipartisan support within the legislature, aims to bring social media companies in line with existing federal and California law requiring parental consent before a minor’s personal information is obtained online or sold. (The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) prohibits companies from selling a minor’s personal information without obtaining the authorization of the consumer’s parent or guardian if the … Continue Reading
The California court of appeals recently allowed a defamation claim to proceed against a company’s CEO for libelous social media posts made about a former employee after her termination. According to her complaint, the employee had been the company’s only female senior executive during her tenure. Following a brief, rocky stint with the company, the employee was terminated, and she filed a lawsuit against the company, asserting claims for gender discrimination, retaliation, and harassment.… Continue Reading
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
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
With the prevalence of employment and labor class action lawsuits, particularly those based on alleged wage and hour violations, the nuances of defending those suits and administering potential settlements are paramount to California employers. One lesser-discussed feature of the class action process is the notice requirement to class members. Throughout the lifespan of the action, potential and actual class members must receive notice at a number of pivotal stages. These stages include, of course, those events closer to the end of the action such as proposed settlements and settlement distributions, but the notice issue can also arise relatively early in … Continue Reading
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 … Continue Reading
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 … Continue Reading
Corporations that sell to consumers and are subject to consumer lawsuits commonly receive deposition demands for top executives. Corporations can frequently defeat these demands by showing that the executives did not participate or have control over the matter at issue. But a recent ruling from a federal trial court in California demonstrated how controlling social media content can help change that result, leaving a CEO as a defendant in a consumer class action alleging fraud and false advertising. (Kamal v. Eden Creamery, LLC, No. 18-cv-01298-BAS-AGS (S.D. Cal. June 26, 2019).)… Continue Reading
Last week, the UK Home Secretary unveiled tough new plans to regulate social media platforms in the White Paper ‘Online Harms’ (the Paper). The Paper sets out a regulatory framework to tackle illegal and harmful online activity, in a flagship move which will require careful attention from social media platforms operating in the UK.… Continue Reading
As a wise person once said, truth often is stranger than fiction. The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth District of Texas (the “Appellate Court”) recently decided Hosseini v. Hansen, a bizarre case involving the intertwining of a tax preparation business, primate trainers and enthusiasts, and a defamation claim. Despite the unique factual circumstances, the case provided good general insight into social media use as it relates to defamation.… Continue Reading
The use of social media by employees is as fraught as it is widespread, and creates tremendous legal risk for the employer. Indeed, employers are wise to require adherence to a thorough policy regarding employee use of social media both inside and outside of work. The best policies will aim to sidestep potential legal landmines by preventing 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.… Continue Reading
On February 7, 2019, a federal trial court in California ruled in favor of a social media influencer’s copyright, trademark, interference with contract, and right of publicity class action lawsuit and denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss. As a result, the social media influencer can proceed with their claims that the defendant website copied social media photos and information but removed the links used by the influencer to monetize social media pages. (Batra v POPSUGAR, Inc., No. 18-cv-03752-HSG (N.D. Cal. Feb. 7, 2019) (2019 WL 482492).… Continue Reading
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
It seems inevitable in today’s digital world that employers will sometimes discover that an employee has posted inappropriate statements or other inappropriate content on social media. The employer must then decide how to respond. Although the desired level of discipline will vary depending on the severity of the content, some statements are so egregious that they may call an employee’s character or fitness into question such that termination is the appropriate response. But if an employee is terminated for inappropriate conduct on social media, does the employer then open itself up to an additional risk of litigation?… Continue Reading
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 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
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
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