The explosion of social media has made things a little more difficult for lawyers than the traditional problems they’d deal with. Should online bullying be addressed? What about false profiles? How do you make laws for something that is worldwide? There is definitely going to be a need for such laws before too long.
On a blog about laws in social media I read about a case where a lady made a false profile of her ex boyfriend making false claims and potentially causing him a damaged reputation. The lady is now facing charges of impersonation/false identity. This brings a whole new meaning to the words “identity theft”! It’s kind of scary to know that someone could make a false Faceboook profile as you and totally destroy your reputation.
Since there are not many clear laws pertaining to social media companies have started creating their own guidelines of “do’s” and “don’ts”. Smart Blog had an article entitled 5 New Corporate Rules for Avoiding Social Media Legal Woes which discussed 5 of the main areas that might cause problems. The rules are:
- International is the new local: Internet is everywhere so it’s hard to make laws and regulations across the board. Not only that but websites that actually contact people or businesses in other companies in other countries need to be aware of what laws that country has that may be different from here.
- Every Idiot is a Publisher: Anyone can write anything online and it’s considered “published” so this has two sides. First, don’t believe everything you read online, and second, don’t EVER write something on the web (especially any kind of social media) that you wouldn’t feel comfortable with everyone seeing.
- Damned if you do, damned if you don’t: The government is struggling to figure out the best way to monitor social media both for personal use and business use. Obviously something needs to be put in place but so far there’s nothing promising coming out.
- The rules may be the same, but the game sure is different: Technology is changing faster than the government can keep up with in terms of regulation. It’s best to keep on your toes and “think twice, post once.” Or in other words: be smart about what you say, it’s permanent online.
- Not everything on the internet is free: Make sure you know what is copyrighted and what isn’t when downloading something, and don’t forget to attribute! Also make sure your stuff is clearly marked and protected by copyright. If there’s something that customers may need to buy, make sure it’s clear that it’s not free.
It will be interesting to see what the governments do to somehow control the madness the internet brings. But the moral of the story today: don’t be stupid, use your common sense.