Social Media & the Law Update 09-18-13: Upcoming PNM Class, FB ‘Like’ Constitutionally Protected

FB 'Like' Constitutionally Protected

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The following information is provided to be just general information, and therefore, should not be taken as specific legal advice that pertains to any particular situation.  The reader should not base any decisions on the information here to act or refrain from acting regarding a legal problem.  If you believe you have a legal problem please seek legal advice from a licensed attorney in the relevant jurisdiction.

Exciting news everyone!  My Pacific New Media (PNM) class on Social Media and the Law is next week!  So there is still plenty of time to sign-up.  Here is the general info:

Sep 25, 2013 • Wed • 7:00-9:00pm • 1 mtg • UHM Krauss 012 • $50 (SMCHI $45)

What will I be covering?  Well, as it is a general survey class, I will touching upon areas where the law has inserted itself in the social media sphere, such as today’s more exciting news.

4th Circuit Court of Appeals Rules the “Liking” on Facebook is Constitutionally Protected

For instance, like how a Facebook ‘Like” is protected by the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (i.e. it is a freedom of speech).  Today, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling in favor of a former deputy sheriff who had been fired from his job due to “liking” the Facebook page of the man running in opposition to his boss.  Basically, the court felt that by “Liking” a campaign page, it was the “Internet equivalent of displaying a political sign in one’s front yard, which the Supreme Court has held is substantive speech.”  Further, the court, in its unanimous ruling, as to this Facebook issue, stated that, “On the most basic level, clicking on the ‘like’ button literally causes to be published the statement that the User ‘likes’ something, which is itself a substantive statement[.]”

To read the complete ruling, check it out here.

Other Topics at my Class

As stated in my post on Trademark Usage, I attended the ABA’s Annual Conference, so I sat in on a seminar on “Social Media Terms of Use: Case Law Round Up”.  Many of the issues discussed at that seminar are ones I will be focusing on for my PNM class, such as various social media platforms’ terms of use, policies, etc . . . . I have a Slideshare that covers basics on the differences between Policies and Contracts.   What many users fail to realize that Terms of Use are generally binding and enforceable contracts, but that a Privacy Policy tends to be just a company’s call toward a prescribed action.  This is something that social media marketers, consultants, small business owners, and those who use social media as one of their primary marketing tools should consider.  Finally, if you are a responsible decision maker for your organization/business, you really consider having internal dialogue on handling social media in general (whether it be employees, PR, marketing, etc . . .).

Anyway, that is just a sliver of one of the many topics to be covered in my class.  So if you are interested in signing up click here.



Pacific New Media Class: Social Media and the Law – March 6, 2013

Please join me at my class with Pacific New Media on Social Media and the Law next week Wednesday, March 6, from 7 – 9pm if you are interested in learning about the applicability of various laws with social media usage. I will be talking about whether you can be fired for using social media, legislative updates, and other various issues that have cropped up when the law tries to get a handle with the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and other communicative platforms.

Click on this link for more details.

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Social Media and the Law: Miscellany

Aloha everyone, as I have covered most of the primary topics that I wanted to regarding Social Media in the Law over the past two months I will be transitioning back to Laws in the Brief.  I will be focusing of course on new laws that the Hawaii state government has passed into law this past session.  Of course I will also be bringing you my silly doodles to help small business owners and entrepreneurs grasp legal concepts.
However, as we all know social media does not sleep and the law tries to keep up as best as it can to changes and innovations in society.   Since I find the topic interesting I will strive to share updates and various information when I find something where the two subjects intersect (or collide).  Seeing as I already missed my posting window let’s get to . . .

Social Media and the Law: Miscellany

Mo. Teachers Want More Online Options

In Missouri, the Teachers Association is suing over a new law that restricts teacher interaction between educators and students.  The law is aimed at making sure that a school district that fires employees for sexual misconduct is liable for similar activity if the fired person is rehired in another school district and then engages in similar behavior.  However, the Association feels that the part of the provision would cut of online chat functions between teacher-student due to the fact the interaction must be public.  For more information check out the article, here.

Beer, Facebook and the SEC?

Remember, the Draw the Law that discussed crowdfunding as a way to raise money?  Remember, I also mentioned you need to be careful how you do it or the SEC may feel you are trying to skirt securities laws.  Well, In the matter of Michael Migliozzi II and Brian Willam Flatow, the SEC brought action against the two due to their use of the Internet to purchase a brewing company for $300 million.   They created a website, used Twitter and Facebook to advertise the site and in return promised that participants would receive a “certificate of ownership” as well as an amount of beer equal to the investment money.  The contributions were never collected, but the two involved settled the matter and consented to a cease and desist.

It always seems like beer and Facebook don’t go well for most people whether it is embarrassing photos of them drunk last Friday night or raising funds without an exemption from SEC.

Facebook Changes its Guidelines and May Be You Should To

Finally, for those of you that use Facebook for your Promotions know that the company has changed is Promotion Guidelines.  Before this year, Facebook used to have you seek approval from them for offerings of sweepstakes, contests, etc . . . . and they had a heavily confusing and overly specific legal compliance “manual” due to the amount of varying sate, federal, and foreign laws that regulate promotions.  However, the new Guidelines significantly more streamlined and it talks about how Facebook features and functionality may or may not be used.   One main example is the old Guidelines used to spell everything out with applicable laws making it a text that was too long as it went through every single jurisdiction.  Now the revised Guidelines state that operators of promotion, themselves are:

responsible for the lawful operation of [their promotions], including the official rules, offer terms and eligibility requirements (e.g., age and residency restrictions), and compliance with regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered in connection with the promotion (e.g., registration and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals).

Check out their Promotions Guidelines

My comment on this is it’s clear that someone at Facebook thought about what they were trying to do and modified their policy with respect to this situation.  Do you think sometimes you could state the functionality and purpose with your web presence with less words than more?  Does it get the point across and is it legally compliant?  Sometimes less is more.

As always if you like this post or any of my other series please “Subscribe” to this blawg to receive e-mail updates.  In addition, follow me on Twitter and “Like” me on Facebook.  If you need to contact me directly, such as for a review of your social policy or a re-drafting, please e-mail me at

*Disclaimer:  This post discusses general legal news and information, but does not constitute legal advice in any respect.  No reader should act or refrain from acting based on information contained herein without seeking the advice of counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.  Ryan K. Hew, Attorney At Law, LLLC expressly disclaims all liability in respect to any actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this post.