Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are just a few of the social media websites that businesses and people use daily. There is no denying that the internet revolution has given birth to the social media revolution. Many people mistakenly believe that what they post on the internet is anonymous. This is not true. In this article, we will talk about the legal issues of social media that can impact a business.
What is Social Media Law?
Social media law is the law that governs what users share on social platforms. Since these platforms are private entities, the free speech portion of the First Amendment in the Constitution does not apply. Although most sites have their Terms of Services (TOS) that users agree to, certain laws give minimum protection to both businesses and consumers, such as trademark infringement, defamation or slander, copyright infringement, etc.
Protecting Intellectual Property
A business’s identity is critical to the brand of the business. Anyone can create a fake website for phishing purposes, or a fake social media account to bring bad publicity in. One sure way a business may be able to protect itself is through trademarking its identity. By trademarking an identity, a business not only has placed the general public on notice as to who owns the identity but will have the legal authority to prevent anyone else from using their identity without permission.
A company that makes an employee sign a non-compete agreement may still have issues with the employee’s individual social media presence. For example, a lawyer at a firm who leaves to work at another firm may sign an agreement not to approach any former clients of the previous firm. However, when the lawyer updates their LinkedIn, this update goes to all of their contacts, including former clients of the previous firm. This might be a violation of an agreement signed between the lawyer and the previous firm.
Defamation and Slander
Defamation and slander issues are some of the biggest issues companies and individuals deal with from social media. Many review sites allow people to write reviews with little to no verification. Sometimes, these sites are used with a malicious purpose to harm a business’s reputation intentionally. In these situations, a business may have a legal right to not only sue to have the review removed but may also sue the poster for damages.
Additionally, a business or an employee of a business that writes disparaging comments on social media about a customer, other employee/co-worker, competitor, or the business itself may find themselves liable as well.
Contact an Expert
In conclusion, as social media grows, the law will need to develop to address issues that may arise. A business needs to create policies for its employees to utilize and follow. Furthermore, a business needs to know what legal recourses are available if they experience harm through these online platforms. The experts at Thompson Law will assist you in determining what legal implications social media has for your company. Then, we will work toward resolving any issues that may arise.