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Socially Aware Blog

The Law and Business of Social Media

Now Available: The February Issue of Our Socially Aware Newsletter

Posted in Compliance, Data Security, Litigation, Section 230 Safe Harbor, UK

SociallyAware_Vol8Issue1_Thumb2The latest issue of our Socially Aware newsletter is now available here.

In this edition,we examine a spate of court decisions that appear to rein in the historically broad scope of the Communications Decency Act’s Section 230 safe harbor for website operators; we outline ten steps companies can take to be better prepared for a security breach incident; we describe the implications of the Second Circuit’s recent opinion in Microsoft v. United States regarding the U.S. government’s efforts to require Microsoft to produce email messages stored outside the country; we explore the EU’s draft regulation prohibiting geo-blocking; and we take a look at UK Consumer Protection regulators’ efforts to combat undisclosed endorsements on social media.

All this—plus an infographic highlighting the most popular social-media-post topics in 2016.

Read our newsletter.

Snapchat Clocks Section 230 Win in Speed Filter Case

Posted in Litigation, Section 230 Safe Harbor

Speedometer_166009527We have been monitoring a trend of cases narrowing the immunity provided to website operators under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA).  A recent decision by a state court in Georgia, however, demonstrates that Section 230 continues to be applied expansively in at least some cases.

The case, Maynard v. McGee, arose from an automobile collision in Clayton County, Georgia.  Christal McGee, the defendant, had allegedly been using Snapchat’s “speed filter” feature, which tracks a car’s speed in real-time and superimposes the speed on a mobile phone’s camera view. According to the plaintiffs, one of whom had been injured in the collision, McGee was using the speed filter when the accident occurred, with the intention of posting a video on Snapchat showing how fast she was driving.  The plaintiffs sued McGee and Snapchat for negligence, and Snapchat moved to dismiss based on the immunity provided by Section 230.

The plaintiffs alleged that Snapchat was negligent because it knew its users would use the speed filter “in a manner that might distract them from obeying traffic or safety laws” and that “users might put themselves or others in harm’s way in order to capture a Snap.” To demonstrate that Snapchat had knowledge, the plaintiffs pointed to a previous automobile collision that also involved the use of Snapchat’s speed filter.  The plaintiffs claimed that “[d]espite Snapchat’s actual knowledge of the danger from using its product’s speed filter while driving at excessive speeds, Snapchat did not remove or restrict access to the speed filter.” Continue Reading

Social Links: Trump’s tweets & the Presidential Records Act; Google’s fake-news raid; tools to burst your social bubble

Posted in Advertising, Marketing, Mobile

Some industry observers are asking whether the post-inauguration tweets that President Trump is sending from his personal Twitter account may be subject to the same Presidential Records Act standards as official presidential communications.

Spending on mobile ads is expected to reach how much by 2021?!

Google recently banned 200 publishers from its AdSense network for either publishing fake news or impersonating real news organizations by using shortened top-level domains such as .co instead of .com.

Perhaps due in part to the fake news phenomenon, most Americans do not trust the news that they read on social media platforms, according to a recent study.

In an effort to keep users on the site, YouTube is testing an in-app messaging platform that allows users to chat about and comment on YouTube content.

Interested in how your brand can best respond to the complaints dissatisfied customers lodge on Twitter? Take a cue from Dippin’ Dots’ savvy response to the new White House Press Secretary’s multiple disses of the company’s product.

An artificially intelligent algorithm that can easily be adapted for smartphones might detect skin cancer moles as effectively as a dermatologist.

A recent study reveals that the United States has more immigrant inventors than every other country combined.

Google just made it possible to view an instantaneous Japanese-to-English translation by holding your smartphone in front of the relevant text.

These tools can help you to take a look beyond your personal social media bubble and understand how the other half thinks.

Second Circuit Clarifies “Repeat Infringer” Policy Requirement for DMCA Copyright Safe Harbors

Posted in DMCA

GettyImages-whitebackground_514259478-[Converted]Congress enacted the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) nearly two decades ago seeking to balance the needs of two factions: Content creators, who were struggling to protect their intellectual property in the digital age, and fledgling Internet companies, who feared being held liable for the misdeeds of their customers.

For the Internet companies, Congress offered relief by creating a number of “safe harbors” shielding such companies from copyright-related damages arising from their customers’ infringing activities.

In particular, the DMCA established four distinct safe harbors for online service providers, each safe harbor aimed at a different type of online activity (i.e., transitory digital network communications; system caching; online hosting; and provision of information location tools) and each with its own set of eligibility requirements.

To qualify for any of these DMCA safe harbors, however, the DMCA requires that service providers “reasonably implement” a policy that provides for the termination of “repeat infringers” in “appropriate circumstances.”

Despite the threshold importance of repeat infringer policies, the DMCA left many questions unanswered. Who exactly counts as an “infringer”? Does it include every user accused of infringement or only those found culpable in court? If it’s somewhere in between, what level of proof is required before a service provider is required to take action? Can the repeat infringer policy differentiate between those who upload infringing content for others to copy and share and those who only download such content for their own personal viewing? And how many acts of infringement does it take to become a “repeat infringer” anyway? Continue Reading

Social Media 2017: Addressing Corporate Risks

Posted in Compliance, Employment Law, Ethics, Marketing, Mobile

Social media is transforming the way companies interact with consumers. Learn how to make the most of these online opportunities while minimizing your company’s risk at Practicing Law Institute’s (PLI) 2017 Social Media conference, to be held in San Francisco and webcasted on Thursday, February 2nd.  The conference will be chaired by Socially Aware co-editor John Delaney, and our other co-editor, Aaron Rubin, will also be presenting at the event.

Topics to be addressed will include:

  • Key developments shaping social media law
  • Emerging best practices for staying out of trouble
  • Risk mitigation strategies regarding user-generated content and online marketing
  • Legal considerations regarding use of personal devices and other workplace issues

Other special features of the conference include:

  • Regulators panel: guidance on enforcement priorities for social media and mobile apps
  • In-house panel: practical tips for handling real-world issues
  • Potential ethical issues relating to the use of social media by attorneys

Don’t miss this opportunity to get up-to-date information on the fast-breaking developments in the critical area of social media and mobile apps so that you can most effectively meet the needs of your clients.

For more information or to register, please visit PLI’s website here.  We hope to see you there!

Tech, Not Trade, Poses Biggest Threat to American Jobs

Posted in Blockchain, Internet of Things

3D illustration of conveyor belt

Donald Trump’s successful road to the White House was fueled by heated rhetoric against free trade deals and U.S. companies engaged in offshore outsourcing. Underpinning his slogan “Make America Great Again” was a premise that millions of jobs lost to other countries should and could return to the United States.

The president’s ambitious goals include the creation of 25 million new jobs over 10 years. Central to the plan is adjusting trade policies—either scrapping them altogether or negotiating new ones more beneficial to American workers. So, too, it would seem, are policies aimed at discouraging companies from outsourcing operations abroad where labor is cheaper.

During the campaign, President Trump called out some of America’s best-known companies for their reliance on foreign labor. He has kept up the rhetoric since being elected. In December, when he touted his success in persuading air conditioner maker Carrier Corp. to keep 800 jobs in Indiana, Trump signaled a policy of retribution to prevent further outsourcing: “Companies are not going to leave the United States any more without consequences,” he said. Continue Reading

Social Links: Will a fan-made Star Trek prequel live long and prosper?; California bans driving while Snapchatting; apps that facilitate infidelity

Posted in European Union, Litigation, Marketing, Online Reviews, Privacy

A federal district court judge refused to grant summary judgment to the copyright owners of the Star Trek franchise in the infringement suit they brought against the team behind a fan-made, crowdfunded prequel to the original Star Trek television series.

Strict new European Union privacy rules will restrict Internet companies’ access to consumers’ data.

Brands might soon be able to place video ads within Instagram Stories.

Driving while Snapchatting (or holding your cell phone in your hand for any other possible reason) is now illegal in California.

China is reportedly testing a system that assigns potentially life-altering “scores” to people based on their online activity.

How much about the future of the Internet do you think Bill Gates was able to predict 20 years ago?

The 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee website’s privacy policy apparently contains language suggesting it was lifted from a casino website.  

A small neighborhood restaurant turned the tables on a Yelp critic.

Concerned about the post-mortem fate of your property, legacy and reputation? Don’t forget your digital assets. This New York Times article explains how to make sure your wishes are carried out.

If you spot these apps on your significant other’s phone, it might be time to worry.

A List of Lists

Posted in Uncategorized

Lightbulb sign with 2017 against concrete wall

Every December and January you can count on the trade press and the mainstream media to run lists of predictions for the upcoming year and retrospectives on the year past ranking the “best” and “worst” of everything from podcasts to memes. Social media users have even begun publishing lists of their own most popular posts. (Instagram users, for example, have been creating their own “best nine 2016 Instagram pics” posts using a web generator.)

At Socially Aware we’ve made an annual tradition of curating a “List of Lists”—an inventory of the roundups we think will be of most interest to our readership.

We’ll update this page throughout the month as additional pertinent content is published.

Happy 2017!

Technology & Social Media Law

2017: Predictions From Socially Aware’s Editors and Contributors

Top 10 Internet Law Developments of 2016

Cybersecurity Law in 2017—Predictions and Prognostications

Social Media (General)

5 Social Media Trends That Will Dominate 2017

The Top 17 Social Media Trends in 2017, According to the Experts

Five Predictions for Political Tech and Social Media in 2017 Continue Reading

Influence + Engage 2017

Posted in Uncategorized

InfluenceAndEngage2017This Friday, January 13, in New York City, Socially Aware will be co-sponsoring and attending Influence + Engage 2017, a conference hosted by The Social Edge that will explore the intersection of social influence and audience engagement.

With a keynote to be given by one of the world’s highest profile social media influencers, George Takei, the conference will include panel discussions on cutting-edge social-media-marketing issues such as how to manage the consequences of algorithms and filter bubbles and how to make sponsored content more authentic.

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn how to best connect with audiences and build your brand’s voice on social media.

The conference will run from 10 am (registration to open at 9am) until 5 pm at the SVA Theater on 23rd Street between 8th and 9th Avenues in Manhattan. For more information regarding the event, click here.

2016: Our Greatest Hits

Posted in Uncategorized

"Top 10" on a screen. More>>

Last year we explained how companies could protect their social media currency and heed the FTC’s warning on native advertising. We examined court opinions establishing the criteria for enforceable website terms of use and defining the scope of protection afforded to website owners under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. We discussed courts’ struggles to interpret emoji and to determine whether “friending” a litigation adversary violates attorney ethics rules. We also explored questions such as whether ad blockers will kill online publishing and whether trolls are killing social media marketing.

We did our best to cover it all. But—of course—some articles resonated with our readers more than others. These were the most popular posts that appeared on Socially Aware in 2016:

  1. New Copyright Office Rule Creates Potential “Gotcha” for Blogs and Websites Hosting User-Generated Content
  2. Social Media Safety Guide for Companies
  3. The Internet of Things: Interoperability, Industry Standards & Related IP Licensing Approaches
  4. Don’t Worry, Be (Un)Happy: Does U.S. Labor Law Protect a Worker’s Right to a Bad Attitude?
  5. Augmenting Reality: A Pokémon Go Business and Legal Primer
  6. Controversial New Jersey Consumer Protection Law Creates a Potential “Gotcha” for E-Commerce Companies
  7. The Internet of Things: Interoperability, Industry Standards & Related IP Licensing Approaches (Part 2)
  8. #Trademarks?: Hashtags as Trademarks Revisited
  9. Mixed Messages: Courts Grapple With Emoticons and Emoji
  10. Clickwrap, Browsewrap and Mixed Media Contracts: A Few Words Can Go a Long Way