Most people these days log onto social media accounts daily, and many do it multiple times throughout the day. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any of the others that are available, these systems can be useful tools for gathering and sharing information, keeping in touch, finding work and much more. While undoubtedly valuable, social media also presents a variety of hidden dangers that are often overlooked. Specifically, social media presents a number of potential legal issues, including the following:
Defamation of Character
People talk about others on their social media profiles, and most of the time that is fine. If you are spreading false rumors or other untruths that could damage another's reputation, however, it can actually land you in some legal trouble. Victims can file a lawsuit, which courts today can take very seriously.
Violation of Privacy Rights
When someone shares private data about another person on social media platforms, they need to make sure that they have that person's permission first. This can apply to a wide range of different information and data, but is most commonly used to prosecute people who share “adult” pictures or videos of an ex in what has come to be known as “revenge porn.” Most social media sites don't allow this type of thing anyway, but there are some that do. Remember, just because it is permitted on a site does not make it legal!
Intellectual Property Infringement
Sharing copyrighted information on social media sites can get you in quite a bit of trouble. This can include sharing pirated copies of movies, books, papers, artwork, and much more. Just because you're sharing it online and not in person does not make it legal. This type of legal issue can also apply to people who share copyrighted information from their work online, making it available to competitors.
There are many laws regulating how advertisements must be handled online, including on social media sites. If you are being paid to endorse or review a product or service, for example, it must be very clear that what you are posting is an advertisement or paid post. The FCC has been cracking down on many people, especially celebrities, who violate digital advertising laws on social media recently, so make sure to keep this in mind.
If you (or your employer) post that you recently got a new job, it may alert a former employer that you are breaking your non-compete contract. This is just one example of how social media can expose people to additional legal risk. Sites such as LinkedIn automatically post when job statuses are updated, and those posts can often be seen by many people that you aren't directly connected to so it is hard to keep this information limited.
We're Here to Help
If you have run into legal issues because of your activity on social media, or you feel your rights have been violated by someone on social media, we are here to help. Contact the Law Office of Philip P. Crowley to discuss your situation and see what we can do for you.