A nice overview of the rules on researching jurors’ social media accounts in various jurisdictions from Law.com.

The importance of appearing at the top of Google search results, especially on mobile devices, is driving retailers to spend more and more on the search engine’s product listing ads, which include not just text but also the photos of products.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology designed a mobile robot that 3D-printed a building that is 50-feet-wide in 14 hours.

In the second half of 2016, Facebook received 9% more global government requests for users’ account data and—largely because users had stopped posting images of the 2015 Paris terrorist attack victims’ remains, which was against French law—28% fewer global government requests to remove content that violates local law.

After Kashmiris posted photos and videos depicting alleged military abuse in the days following a violence-plagued local election, authorities in the Indian-controlled region banned 22 social media sites, claiming it was necessary to restore order.

At the UEFA Champions League final in Cardiff, Wales, this summer, British police will pilot a new automated facial recognition (AFR) system to scan the faces of attendees and compare them to a police “persons of interest” database.

To show concerned citizens—and criminals—that they mean business, police in an Alabama city are live-broadcasting arrests on Twitter.

The data collected by the physical-activity-tracking device worn by a Connecticut murder victim contradicts the timeline of events given by her husband, a suspect.

One of the Kardashians is being sued by a photo agency for allegedly copying a copyrighted photo of her and posting it to her Instagram account.

And on the subject of user-generated content, owners of video content that is posted by users to Facebook without authorization can now claim ad earnings for the infringing content and set automated rules that will determine when infringing content should be blocked.

The editor of the MIT Technology Review provided interesting insights to Chatbots Magazine regarding the future and current state of artificial intelligence.

Police in Silicon Valley arrested a man for allegedly knocking down a 300-pound security robot while he was intoxicated.

New York City’s Conflicts of Interest Board has issued guidelines prohibiting elected officials from using official social media accounts for political purposes or having their staff draft content for their personal social media accounts.

Congress has begun paving the way for the deployment of autonomous vehicles.

Twitter has begun temporarily limiting its account features for users the company identifies as abusive.

Google Maps now allows users to create lists and share them with followers.

U.S. and Canadian companies can post job openings to their Facebook pages for free.

Thanks to millennials, online chat rooms are making a comeback.

With Tinder’s acquisition of the video-sharing startup called Wheel, video dating is likely in store for a revival, too.

Yelp will be offering a new feature that allows users to ask questions about a venue.

Reportedly used by political operatives ranging from White House staffers to EPA workers, encrypted messaging apps have become popular in Washington—and it’s raising legal questions.

Warren Buffet is getting into the wearables game.

Some tips for small businesses on how to manage a social media presence.

The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has filed suit to overturn a law that requires the popular entertainment website to remove the ages or birth dates of people in the entertainment industry upon request.

Vine might not be history after all.

Twitter users posted more than one billion election-related tweets between the first presidential debate and Election Day.

Facebook is testing a feature that allows company Page administrators to post job ads and receive applications from candidates.

People who create or encourage others to use “derogatory hashtags” on social media could be prosecuted in England and Wales.

A new “tried it” checkmark on pins will allow Pinterest users to share the products and projects they’ve purchased or attempted.

Did social media ads allow political campaigns to circumvent state laws prohibiting the visible promotion of candidates within a certain distance of polling places?

The Eight Circuit held that a college has the right to expel a student from its nursing program for inappropriate social media posts about his classmates, including the suggestion that he would inflict on one of them a “hemopneumothorax”—a lung puncture.

Law enforcement officials are increasing their use of social media to locate missing persons.

An unemployed single mother in California is facing several misdemeanor charges for selling her ceviche over social media.

Coming soon to a vending machine near you: Snapchat Spectacles (but only if you live in a densely populated area like New York or Los Angeles).

Social media analytics firms claim that social media did a better job at predicting Trump’s win than the polls.

Facebook at Work, the on-the-job version of the web’s most popular social media platform, will launch in London on October 10th.

Add iHeartRadio to the list of Internet radio platforms that will be offering an on demand music streaming service.

California law will be updated to explicitly prohibit drivers from browsing social media or taking selfies (or other photos) while they’re behind the wheel.

Should you download Allo, Google’s new messaging app?

Florida appeals court: A student’s tweet stating that he “can’t WAIT to shoot up [his] school” is not a criminal threat under Florida law.

Available to consumers later this fall, Snapchat’s Spectacles are already raising the kinds of privacy concerns that plagued Google Glass.

Will artificial intelligence and robots eliminate millions of jobs? Not if these five tech giants can help it.

A tool is being developed to help law enforcement scan Twitter for signs of impending hate crime.

Meetup redesigned its mobile apps and website.

A rumination on cyberbullying, online anonymity and the dark side of human nature.

Facebook users spend more time on the platform than they spend pursuing any other leisure activity, except TV. Indeed, 1/16th of the average user’s waking time is spent on the platform.

The most disliked movie trailer in history, according to YouTube.

New California law would determine what happens to your Facebook and email when you die. This article explains what’s likely to happen to your social media assets if you die anywhere else.

Guess what percentage of U.S. households own a wearable?

According to the messaging platform’s own CEO, Snapchat is not social media.

Twitter filed a lawsuit arguing it should be allowed to publicly disclose more details about requests for information from the government.

Fail! Another NYPD social media campaign gone bad makes headlines.

How your social media profiles make you vulnerable to identity theft, and what you can do about it.

Tips for using social media to plan your vacations and land a job.

January is the month when lists—lists of predictions, lists of trends, lists of feats and lists of failures—pervade social media newsfeeds and publications’ headlines. Here at Socially Aware we’re making an annual tradition of curating a “List of Lists”—an inventory of the roundups that 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 2016!

Apps

The 100 Best iPhone Apps of 2016

The 100 Best Android Apps of 2016

Social Media (General)

What’s ahead for social media in 2016?

11 pivotal social media trends for 2016

Social Media Trends 2016

Virtual Reality Takes Off and 4 Other Social Media Trends in 2016

Social Media Sites You’ll Be Seeing More of in 2016

Beyond Twitter: The Other Social Media Platforms 2016 Candidates Are Using

Social Media Content

Top 10 social media misfires of 2015

Top Social Media Stories of 2015

Twitter’s Top Social Media Moments of 2015

Digital & Social Media Marketing

Five things great brands will do differently on social media in 2016

20 Things Social Media Professionals Can’t Ignore In 2016

Skills Social Media Managers Will Need in 2016

From Likes To Tweets: Marketing Land’s Top Social Media Marketing Columns Of 2015

10 Steps To Improve Your 2016 Social Media ROI

21 Content Marketing Predictions for 2016

Legal Tech

The 10 Most Important Legal Technology Developments of 2015

4 Legal Tech Trends To Watch For In 2016

What Technologies Will Most Affect Big Law in 2016?

Startups

146 Startup Failure Post-Mortems

15 interesting startups to watch in 2016

10 Business Trends for 2016 Success

Tech, Privacy and Social Media Law

Five Privacy and Security Stories That Mattered in 2015

Wired.com’s Predictions on the Intersection of Technology and the Law in 2016

Tech trends 2016: Cybersecurity in the connected world

 

 

150728SociallyAware_Page_01The latest issue of our Socially Aware newsletter is now available here.

In this issue of Socially Aware, our Burton Award-winning guide to the law and business of social media, we present a “grand unifying theory” of today’s leading technologies and the legal challenges these technologies raise; we discuss whether hashtags can be protected under trademark law; we explore the status of social media accounts in bankruptcy; we examine the growing tensions between content owners and users of livestreaming apps like Meerkat and Periscope; we highlight a recent discovery dispute involving a deactivated Facebook account; we discuss a bill before Congress that would protect consumers’ rights to post negative reviews on websites like Yelp; and we take a look at the Federal Trade Commission’s crackdown on in-store tracking activities.

All this—plus an infographic exploring the popularity of livestreaming sites Meerkat and Periscope.

Read our newsletter.

04_17_Big Data Analytics diagram_v8As a technology law blogger and co-editor of Socially Aware, I monitor emerging developments in information technology. What’s hot in IT today? Any shortlist would have to include social media, mobile, wearable technology, the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and big data.

That list is all over the map, right? Or is it? On closer inspection, these technologies are far more closely intertwined than they may appear to be at first glance.

So what’s the connection between, say, social media and the Internet of Things? Or wearable tech and cloud computing?

Here’s my theory: These technologies all reflect the ceaseless drive by businesses to collect, store and exploit ever more data about their customers. In short, these technologies are ultimately about selling more stuff to us.

With this “grand unifying theory” in mind, one sees how these seemingly disparate technologies complement one another. And the legal challenges and risks they pose become clear.

Collection of Data

Let’s start with the collection of consumer data. Of the six key trends identified above, four relate directly to such collection: social media, mobile, wearable technology and IoT.

When we use the Internet, marketers are tracking our activities; the data generated by our online behavior is collected and then used to target ads that will be more relevant to us.

If we spend time on movie sites, we’re more likely to see ads promoting new film releases. If we visit food blogs, we’re going to be served ads selling cookware.

Creepy? It can be. But such tracking and targeting make it possible for many website operators to offer online content and services for free. Indeed, many believe that such tracking and targeting are essential to the vibrancy of our Internet ecosystem. (Although Google is reportedly experimenting with an offering where one would pay not to see ads while surfing the Web.)

In the past, serious limitations existed on the ability of marketers to track and target us. We might have given our name, email and home address to a website, but not much else; now, with social media, we routinely volunteer loads of personal information—our jobs, hobbies, special skills, taste in music and movies, even our “relationship status.” And not just information about ourselves, but our families, friends and colleagues as well. As a result, social media companies have compiled huge databases about us—in Facebook’s case, nearly 1.4 billion of us.

Also, not long ago, we surfed the Web from either home or office—limiting the ability to be tracked and targeted while away from those locations. The rise of Internet-connected mobile devices has changed all that, of course—now we can access the Web from anywhere, and mobile devices can pinpoint our location, even when we’re not browsing. Marketers can track our daily journey to and from home to work and back again, even serving us “just in time” discount offers as we pass a clothing store or restaurant.

From a marketer’s perspective, social media and mobile are all about expanding the amount and type of customer data that can be collected. Thanks to mobile devices and apps, tracking and targeting are no longer desk-bound and can occur even if a customer is not connected to the Internet.

Wearable tech? Like cell phones, wearables make tracking and targeting possible while one is away from a traditional computer or not actively using the Web. These devices can also collect information that cell phones can’t – our heart rate or body temperature, or the number of hours one slept last week.

For marketers, the Internet of Things is especially exciting because it raises the possibility of being able to track and target consumers anywhere in their homes, even while they are away from their desktop computers or mobile devices.

Imagine your “smart” refrigerator not only determining when you’re low on milk, but offering a 15 percent discount if you were to buy today a quart of milk at your local market. Or your Internet-connected washing machine recommending a new laundry detergent based on its monitoring of your laundry loads.

Another hot technology trend – commercial drones – is relevant here. Although unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have generated attention for their ability to facilitate package delivery and accommodate WiFi access, they can be used to collect data on consumers when they’re outdoors or near a window, even when they are without cell phones, wearables or other devices used to track their movement and activities.

Ingestibles—“smart” pills containing sensors that are swallowed, allowing the collection of data within one’s body—are a nascent technology that, as they become more widely used, may ultimately fit into this theory.

Storage of Data

With social media platforms, mobile, wearable and IoT devices and UAVs collecting information on an unprecedented scale, that data needs to be stored somewhere. Enter the cloud. All of these new technologies depend heavily on the massive storage capacity made possible by cloud systems; it wouldn’t be cost effective otherwise. (Case in point: A 2013 study revealed that 90% of all the data in the world had been collected over the prior two years.)

Exploitation of Data

Once all this data has been collected and stored in the cloud, what then?

That’s where big data enters the picture. Big data is providing companies with the analytic tools for sifting through these inconceivably large databases in order to exploit the bits therein.

For example, that photo you uploaded to Instagram can now be analyzed for marketing opportunities. Perhaps you were holding a bag of potato chips; using big data analytics, the chip maker could target you in its next online ad campaign. Or maybe a competing snack company wants to entice you to switch brands. Why stop there? What about the shirt that you were wearing? And that pair of jeans? (I’ve written on the application of big data analytics to the billions of photos hosted on social media sites here.)

Similarly, information collected from wearables, when processed by big data tools, opens up new opportunities for marketers. Your pulse rate may be of interest to the health care industry. Your jogging workouts may attract attention from retailers of athletic shoes and clothing.

But the mother lode just might be all of the marketing insights to be generated by big data analytics stemming from multiple IoT devices in one’s home—the thermostat, stove, refrigerator, coffee machine, toaster, washer/dryer, humidifier, alarm clock and so on: for the first time ever, marketers will have access to real-time information regarding once-private quotidian activities.

Legal Considerations

So that’s my theory: The adoption of today’s hottest IT technologies is being driven in large part by the insatiable desire of businesses to collect and store ever-larger amounts of consumer data, and to then use that data to more successfully market to consumers. When these technologies are viewed in light of this theory, some key legal observations emerge.

First, because these technologies all involve the collection, storage and exploitation of consumer data, privacy and data security are necessarily raised and indeed are the most important legal considerations. That’s not meant to minimize intellectual property, product liability and other legal concerns associated with these technologies; privacy and data security laws, however, are the ones specifically designed to regulate the collection, use and exploitation of consumer data.

Second, these technologies are being developed and implemented far faster than the ability of legislators, regulators and courts to develop rules to govern them. It will be essential for companies embracing these technologies to self-regulate—failure to do so will result in an inevitable backlash, leading to burdensome regulations that will undermine innovation.

Third, these technologies will present real challenges to the majority of companies that want to “do the right thing” by their customers. For example, consumers ideally should be provided with notice and an opportunity to consent prior to the collection, storage and exploitation of their personal information, but how can this be done through, say, a smart electric toothbrush? These issues need to be addressed early in the development cycle for next-generation products—it can’t be an afterthought. Moreover, are customers receiving real, tangible value in connection with the data being collected from them?

Fourth, as our social-media pages, devices and appliances become more closely tied together, and linked to massive troves of data about us in the cloud, businesses need to be aware that it takes only one weak link to put the entire ecosystem at risk. Hackers will no longer need to bypass your computer or phone’s security to capture personal data; they may be able to access your records through, say, an Internet-enabled toaster that lacks adequate security controls.

Finally, companies need to pay attention to whether they need to collect all the data that can be collected through these technologies. Ideally, they should seek to minimize the amounts of personally identifiable information they hold, in order to reduce privacy- and security-related legal risks, and liability.

No doubt this last recommendation may be hard for many marketers to embrace; after all, data-gathering is in their DNA. And that same hard-wiring is in all of our DNA—the original source code for data collection, storage and exploitation. We wouldn’t be human without it.

(This is an expanded, “director’s cut” version of an op-ed piece that originally appeared in MarketWatch.)

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

In this issue of Socially Aware, our Burton Award-winning guide to the law and business of social media, we discuss key–and often ignored–legal concerns regarding social media assets in M&A transactions; we explore whether anti-Glass hysteria may have doomed Google Glass; we highlight a landmark case finding that parents can be held liable for their child’s online activities (yikes!); we take a look at the FTC’s latest crackdown on social media advertising; and we drill down on cloud services agreements.

All this—plus an infographic roundup of social media’s “greatest” hits in 2014.

Read our newsletter.

Once the hottest new technology innovation around, Google Glass was put out to pasture yesterday, at least for the near future.

In the tech industry, we generally assume that a game-changing product like Glass will somehow find a way to thrive, especially with Google’s virtually unlimited resources behind it. So why did Glass suffer this major setback?

I don’t have an answer. But I wonder if the relentless stream of negative publicity–often unreasonably negative publicity–about Glass may have contributed to consumers’ reluctance to embrace the product.

Consider, for example, the following items:

  • A recent study allegedly showing that Google Glass can partially obstruct the wearer’s peripheral vision received widespread coverage in the popular press. The study found that, even when the device is turned off, Google Glass’s hardware creates a blind spot in the upper right area of the wearer’s visual field. But, remarkably, this “study” was based on the experiences of only three people–hardly a statistically significant sample. (Most statisticians agree that, for a test to produce a meaningful result, there should be at least 100 subjects involved.)
  • Another recent study picked up by the news media described the Navy’s Substance Abuse and Recovery Program’s treatment of a 31-year-old serviceman for alcoholism and “significant frustration and irritability related to not being able to use his Google Glass,” as a case of “Google Glass addiction,” as if that were an established disorder (it’s not). At least the “obstructed peripheral vision” study noted above involved three participants; this “study” involved only a single subject.
  • It was widely reported last year that Glass would make it easier for eavesdroppers to steal ATM and tablet users’ PINs and passcodes–not because Glass’s technology makes it superior for those purposes, but because Glass is allegedly less conspicuous than, say, a smartphone with a camera. But the fact that Glass lights up when in use would seem to make it an awkward tool for spying on people using ATMs and tablets in public.

Even a cursory Google search will turn up many other articles warning us of the perils of Glass. (We covered anti-Glass sentiment in greater detail in a blog post last year.)  But I don’t mean to suggest that the press was solely responsible for anti-Glass hysteria; governments and big business did their part to stoke consumer fears.

For example, several state legislatures have been considering bills that would make it illegal to wear Google Glass while driving. As a practical matter, for such legislation to be effective, it would have to forbid motorists from wearing any head-mounted device, whether or not it’s in use–a police officer cannot be expected to know whether a person behind the wheel actually had her Glass device turned on while she was driving.

The federal government also jumped on the anti-Glass bandwagon. In May 2013, for example, a bipartisan caucus of U.S. congressmen sent Google an inquiry regarding a variety of privacy matters. In response to that inquiry, Google announced in June 2013 that it would not allow applications with facial recognition on Google Glass. It’s remarkable that, even in these bitterly partisan times, Glass fears could unite Democrats and Republicans.

Regulators in other countries entered the fray as well, writing to Google to complain that they had not been approached by Google to address Glass-related privacy concerns.

Further, all types of businesses and organizations have rushed to ban Glass–bars, restaurants, banks, schools, hospitals, museums, casinos, circuses, strip clubs and so on. Some of these bans, of course, make sense, but others do not; interestingly, history informs us that the revolutionary Kodak camera, upon its introduction in 1888, was banned from beach resorts and even the Washington Monument.

In any event, it’s hard to imagine any product, no matter how innovative, surviving the barrage of negative developments related to Glass. Everywhere one looked, the message was that Glass had the potential to do damage–damage to its user’s physical and mental health, damage to its owner’s integrity, damage to the privacy of bystanders, damage to other motorists, damage to a business establishment’s income.

I don’t mean to suggest that Glass didn’t raise some legitimate privacy concerns–it did. And so does the Internet. And social media. And mobile phones. And the Internet of Things. And even the Kodak camera, for that matter.

Now that Glass is no longer with us, perhaps we can look at it with clearer vision. Is it possible that all of the relentless criticism of Glass was, well, short-sighted?