With over one billion websites on the Internet, and 211 million items of online content created every minute, it should come as no surprise that content curation is one of the hottest trends in the Internet industry. We are overwhelmed with online content, and we increasingly rely on others to separate the good from the bad so that we can make more efficient use of our time spent surfing the web.

Consistent with this trend, many websites that host user-generated content are now focused on filtering out content that is awful, duplicative, off-topic, or otherwise of little interest to site visitors. And these sites often find that humans—typically passionate volunteers from the sites’ user communities—are better than algorithms at sorting the wheat from the chaff.

Of course, any website that deals with user-generated content needs to consider potential copyright liability arising from such content. We’ve discussed in past Socially Aware blog posts the critical importance of Section 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (the DMCA) to the success of YouTube, Facebook and other online platforms that host user-generated content. By providing online service providers with immunity from monetary damages in connection with the hosting of content at the direction of users, Section 512(c) has fueled the growth of the U.S. Internet industry. Continue Reading Could the Use of Online Volunteers and Moderators Increase Your Company’s Copyright Liability Exposure?

Nearly all companies—whether they’re focused on the B2C market or the B2B market—have embraced social media as a way to promote their goods and services and to interact with customers and potential customers. The growing use of social media has, however, created challenges for federal securities regulators who must enforce antifraud rules that were written prior to the digital age.

Our Guide to Social Media and the Securities Laws summarizes how regulation has evolved in the face of the growing use of social media. It discusses the principal areas of focus for SEC-reporting companies, registered investment advisers, registered investment companies and registered broker-dealers that use social media.

Read our Guide to Social Media and the Securities Laws.

A federal district court in Wisconsin struck down the first law in the country requiring augmented-reality-game makers to go through a complicated permit-application process before their apps could be used in county parks.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 13 will implement an electronic filing system, making all new documents available to the public for free. In another attempt to advance its use of technology, SCOTUS updated its website.

Approximately 40% of the world’s population is now active on social media.

Researchers who tried to identify people suffering from depression by examining their Instagram photos had a 70% success rate.

DoNotPay, a chatbot that has helped drivers to overturn 375,000 parking tickets so far, is expanding to help consumers tackle nearly one thousand other legal issues without the help of an attorney.

The number of Internet-of-Things-related companies is fast multiplying. This Forbes piece lists the IoT categories that are attracting the most interest from entrepreneurs and investors.

Companies that allow hiring managers to check out job candidates’ social media accounts could be exposing themselves to legal trouble.

Beware requests to connect on social media from people you don’t actually know. A known hacker group used a fake LinkedIn profile to connect with people working at certain companies and trick them into installing malware on their company computers.

Using blockchain, companies organized as Decentralized Autonomous Organizations do away with the need for senior executives and managers by allowing stakeholders to vote on every decision the company faces—including the fate of employees who underperform.

A survey of 2,000 Britons about their pet social-media-peeves showed that bragging about your kids might hurt your popularity online. Read the full list of cyber activities that most people consider Facebook faux pas.

Searching “millennials killed…” on the Internet returns over 1.5 million results in .65 seconds. Commentators have blamed the generation raised by tablets, smartphones, and apps for killing everything from marriage to brunch, often deriding today’s youth for being too opinionated and too obnoxious. It is a bit ironic, then, that the right to complain was almost a casualty of the technology generation.

Today, ecommerce and social media are ubiquitous and intertwined. For example, any ecommerce site worth its salt will include interactive user comments that enable purchasers to praise or critique products. Moreover, the power of online review sites, such as Yelp and Rotten Tomatoes, to set consumer tastes is only increasing. For example, a study conducted at Harvard Business School concluded that a one-star improvement on Yelp would lead to a roughly 9% increase in revenue for restaurants. Considering how thin profit margins are in the restaurant sector, 9% could make or break a small business.

In response to the growing significance of user reviews, some companies sought to protect their revenue streams by including non-disparagement clauses in form contracts, such as terms of service and other click-through agreements. Retailers, studios, restaurants and even hotels used these gag clauses to suppress bad reviews by levying fines and imposing other penalties on consumers. Continue Reading Get Your Gripe On: The Consumer Review Fairness Act Is Live

E-mails. Text messages. Instant messages. Social media. The digital age has given birth to powerful new ways to communicate that have transformed how we live and conduct business. But the proliferation of communication options has come with increased exposure to claims in litigation of withholding, hiding, destroying and losing evidence.

A reminder of the increasing danger of the digital age in discovery recently arose in the New York state attorney general’s investigation of ExxonMobil’s research into the causes and effects of climate change.

After receiving documents from Exxon pursuant to a subpoena, the state attorney general informed a New York court that it had discovered that former Exxon CEO and Chairman Rex Wayne Tillerson had used an alias email address on the Exxon system under the pseudonym “Wayne Tracker” from at least 2008 through 2015. Continue Reading Digital Age Expands Communication but Creates Discovery, Litigation Pitfalls

A defamation suit brought by one reality television star against another—and naming Discovery Communications as a defendant—could determine to what extent (if any) media companies may be held responsible for what their talent posts on social media.

In a move characterized as setting legal precedent, UK lawyers served an injunction against “persons unknown” via an email account linked to someone who was posting allegedly defamatory “fake news” stories on social media.

European regulators fined Google $2.7 billion for violating antitrust law by allegedly tailoring algorithms for product-related queries to promote its own comparison shopping service. If the search company doesn’t change how its search engine works in the EU in the next few months, it risks fines of up to 5% of its parent company Alphabet Inc.’s daily revenue.

A newly formed trade group, called the Influencer Marketing Council, is representing social influencers in discussions with regulators and Internet platforms, and is leading an effort to outline best practices for complying with the FTC’s endorsement guidelines.

Pinterest’s commercial progress has reportedly been hampered by several factors, including the format of its advertisements, which must mimic user posts—something that requires brands to design content specifically for the platform.

Members of law enforcement have expressed concerns regarding the safety risks posed by a Snapchat update that lets users see the exact location of their Snapchat “friends.” An article on The Verge has some useful tips on how to use the function, which is called Snap Map, and how to turn it off.

Because the First Amendment limits the ability of the U.S. government to regulate search companies’ and social media platforms’ policies and guidelines, companies like Google and Twitter might eventually be de facto regulated even within the United States by foreign nations whose governments are entitled to regulate what happens on the Internet in order to protect their citizens according to their own laws.

Several A-list musicians have stepped away from social media at least partly because their incredible popularity has made them an attractive target for trolls.

Here are tips on how to limit online service providers from collecting information about you in using social media and surfing the web.

More and more often, the organizers of conferences, trade shows and events are taking advantage of beacon technology to track attendees’ movement throughout their conventions’ sessions and event spaces. Although no U.S. law specifically prohibits such tracking, the FTC has made it clear that companies need prior consent to engage in such tracking.

Find out how you may be able to monitor conference attendees’ movements throughout your event space without running afoul of the FTC Act. Read Convene magazine’s interview with Socially Aware marketing desk editor Julie O’Neill.

 

On July 21, 2017, following last June’s announcement that the Delaware House of Representatives had passed (with near unanimity) blockchain-related provisions proposing to amend several sections of the Delaware General Corporation Law (DGCL), the Delaware Governor officially signed the legislation into law.

The newly enacted legislation provides, among other things, specific statutory authority for Delaware corporations to use “distributed electronic networks or databases,” aka distributed ledgers or blockchain technology, for the creation and maintenance of corporate records, including the corporations’ stock ledger.[2]

1. The Use of Blockchain Technology for the Creation and Administration of Corporate Records

Section 219(c) of the DGCL provides that a stock ledger of a Delaware corporation is the only evidence of the identity of stockholders of the corporation who are entitled to inspect the list of stockholders and to vote at meetings.

Until now, under current recordkeeping practice, the stock ledger of a corporation could only be created and maintained by a corporate secretary or a corporation’s transfer agent. Often, a stock ledger consists of a capitalization table, i.e., electronically encoded data on a computer program like Microsoft Excel, which is producible in printed form. Continue Reading Delaware Governor Signs Groundbreaking Blockchain Legislation into Law

On June 22, 2017, the German Parliament passed a bill that, among other things, awards extensive surveillance powers to law enforcement authorities. The new law, once in force, will allow law enforcement to covertly install software on end user devices allowing the interception of ongoing communications via Internet services such as WhatsApp or Skype. These new measures may be used for investigating a wide array of crimes (the “Catalog Crimes”), which are classified as “severe” but range from murder to sports betting fraud to everything in between.

Today, the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) is only allowed to engage in similar activities to prevent international terrorism. All other law enforcement authorities are only allowed to intercept regular text messages and listen to phone conversations in cases of Catalog Crimes. However, these investigators are currently fighting a losing battle against end-to-end encrypted Internet services. With respect to such services, the current legal framework only allows for access via the respective telecom operators. These operators, however, can only provide law enforcement with the encrypted communications streams. By introducing the new law, the German government now aims to prevent “legal vacuums” allegedly resulting from this surveillance gap. Continue Reading German Parliament Enacts Wide-ranging Surveillance Powers Allowing End User Devices to Be Hacked by Authorities

The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held that a North Carolina law that the state has used to prosecute more than 1,000 sex offenders for posting on social media is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment.

The U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari in what has become known as the  “dancing baby” case—a lawsuit brought by a woman who sued Universal Music Group for directing YouTube to take down a video of her toddler-age son dancing to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.” The high court’s decision leaves in place the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals holding that copyright owners must consider the possibility of fair use before sending a DMCA takedown notice.

Queen Elizabeth II proposed to Parliament a law that would require social networking sites to honor Internet users’ requests to remove anything the users shared before turning 18. The European Union already requires search engines to abide by users’ requests to remove information as part of the “right to be forgotten,” but the information must fulfill several criteria to qualify for removal.

In an effort to minimize the extent to which social bots can manipulate public opinion, Germany plans to update its communication laws to require the operators of social media platforms to identify when posts were generated by social bots and not actual people. And, yes, the name in German for this labeling requirement is Kennzeichnungspflicht.

In other German social-media-news, police in that country raided the homes of 36 people accused of posting on social media hate speech that included threats and harassment based on race and sexual orientation, and left-wing and right-wing extremist content.

Making Texas one of 18 states to pass a bill on self-driving cars, Lone Star State governor Greg Abbott signed a bill confirming that car manufacturers may test autonomous vehicles on Texas roads and highways.

Bitcoin’s price might be surging, but it has yet to achieve widespread usage.

Motivated in part by her desire to avoid real-estate-agent fees, a London homeowner plans to sell her house by hosting a viewing on Facebook Live and receiving offers through Facebook Messenger.