Tag archives: Social media

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

Trademarks, social media and lessons learned

On June 14, 2018, a federal trial court in New York issued a decision relating to a restaurant owner’s claim that the restaurant manager was using the owner’s trademarks on social media in violation of the federal trademark law known as the Lanham Act. The trial court denied the owner’s claim, in a ruling that provides some useful lessons to anyone who licenses a trademark. (Thousand Island Park Corp. v. Welser, 5:18-CV-117 (N.D.N.Y. June 14, 2018 (2018 WL 29803231)).)… 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

The #MeToo Movement: When Employees Take Their Complaints to Social Media

As we are all aware, the news has been populated with stories concerning allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct, particularly in the entertainment and media industries as well as government institutions. These stories have contributed to the “#MeToo” movement, which originated on Twitter and other social media websites in late 2017 and has since become a widespread message on social media encouraging individuals to share their stories and speak out against sexual harassment and abuse.  Although its purposes are laudable, the #MeToo movement is a touchy subject for employers, who ever-more-frequently find themselves accused of sexual harassment or other misconduct … 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

Snap out of it: the resurrection of “self-destructing” social media evidence

In December of 2017, a UK inmate was freed after years in prison when deleted social media messages disproved the allegations against him.

Danny Kay was accused of rape in 2013. A key piece of evidence was a social media conversation between Kay and his accuser, in which he appeared to be apologizing for nonconsensual sex. Kay maintained that the conversation shown to the jury was incomplete, but he believed the full conversation had been deleted and could not be retrieved. Fortunately for him, a fellow inmate convinced Kay that the conversation could be recovered. Kay’s sister-in-law logged in to … Continue Reading

A Safer Internet in the UK – but what is the burden for technology companies?

The UK government, like many others, is pushing for a safer Internet. Prompted by the global trend in cyber-bullying and online offensive material/trolling, the UK has taken steps to address Internet safety with the stated aim of being the safest place in the world to be online. We recently reported on the measured taken in Germany.… Continue Reading

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

Ninth Circuit Reverses Social Media Gag Order

Currently, in the midst of a jury trial in U.S. federal court, the San Diego Comic Convention (SDCC) has had a bumpy ride in its trademark suit in the Southern District of California against Dan Farr Productions and its co-founders for their use of the name Salt Lake Comic Con. On October 26, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s “gag order,” which essentially prevented the defendants from posting about the case on any social media platform.… Continue Reading

Entering a new age of virtual reality

Experiencing virtual reality

The line between the digital world and the physical world is becoming increasingly blurred as we enter an era of virtual reality (VR).  VR can be defined as a “computer technology that uses virtual reality headsets…to generate realistic images, sounds and other sensations that simulate a user’s physical presence in a virtual or imaginary environment.”  In other words, VR uses computers to create a virtual environment that feels as close to reality as possible.

VR will have a significant impact on social media. Instead of communicating through texts, pictures and videos, VR technology will allow … 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

Social Media Evidence and Pay-Per-View TV

We have previously written about social media posts and advertisements being used as evidence in a variety of legal cases (most recently, a post relating to emojis).  A federal court in Pennsylvania recently used two social media advertisements—from a source the court could not identify—as evidence to support a finding of “willfulness” and to award 33% in enhanced damages.  (J&J Sports Productions, Inc. v. Ramsey, Civ. No. 17-1942 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 27, 2017) (2017 WL 4287200).)… Continue Reading

U.S. Department of Homeland Security to collect immigrants’ social media data

The United States Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) published, on September 18, 2017, in the Federal Register, a notice that it would begin collecting certain information relating to immigrants’ use of social media as part of the National File Tracking System of Records. Since 1944, so-called Alien Files have been the official record system of immigrants, who have each received an Alien Registration Number. These files have historically contained basic information, such as each immigrant’s name, date of birth, date of entry into the United States, country of birth, parents’ names, and naturalization information, if applicable. The files … Continue Reading

Unemployment Benefits Lost Over Social Media Post

Even when an employee is terminated for cause, it can be difficult to fight an employee’s claim for unemployment benefits. A September 2017 ruling from the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania may provide employers a new route to combat meritless unemployment claims. In most states, an unemployed individual may file for and receive unemployment benefits if he is out of work due to no fault of his own.  The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania recently affirmed a decision by the state’s unemployment board to deny a former painter at a metal company unemployment benefits because of a social media post he left … 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

New German Law on Hate Speech on Social Media

June of 2017 ended with the German parliament approving the bill targeted at eliminating hate speech and fake news on social media, including on Facebook, YouTube, and Google. The law will take effect in October of 2017, and could carry fines up to EUR 50 million.

We previously discussed the bill on this blog post.  Now that the bill has been passed into law, social media companies are required to remove illegal hate speech within 24 hours after receiving notification or a complaint, and to block other offensive content within seven days.  The law also requires social media companies to … Continue Reading

Private social media posts can get you kicked out of university and worse

Each year Harvard University, one of the world’s most prestigious universities, receives over 30,000 applications from prospective students for about 2,000 places in its first year class. Recently, ten of those successful applicants, due to graduate in 2021, had their offers of admission revoked before they set foot onto campus.  The reason?  The content of the offensive memes they had shared on a private Facebook group, which at one stage had been named “Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens”.… Continue Reading

Chatbots: Some Legal Issues

What is a chatbot?  Essentially it is a computer program which simulates human behaviour online, including on social media. Chatbots are not a new concept but are becoming increasingly sophisticated in what they can do and how closely they can mimic human behaviour online, such that they are increasingly replacing humans in populating social media for organisations.

Chatbots are widely used by corporations to stimulate conversation, promote products/services, increase consumer engagement and generally enhance the user experience. For example, RBS has announced an intent to launch a chatbot “Luvo” to help its customers with more straightforward queries; H&M has a … Continue Reading

Expert Witnesses May (Still) Be Used in U.S. Litigation to Explain Basic Social Media Use

On March 8, 2017, federal Judge Sidney Fitzwater, of the North District of Texas, issued a memorandum opinion and order in Charalambopoulos v. Grammer, No. 3:14-CV-2424-D, 2017 WL 930819. The case had already been in litigation for years and involved allegations of domestic violence and defamation.  According to earlier opinions issued in Charalambopoulos, the parties had been staying in Houston, Texas where the defendant – a reality television star and former wife of Kelsey Grammer – was undergoing cancer treatment.  The parties, who were dating at the time, got into an argument at their hotel during the trip.  … Continue Reading

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