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PR 475 -- Dangers of Blogging for PR Professionals
 

PR 475 -- Dangers of Blogging for PR Professionals

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This lecture explores the negative side of blogging from a PR perspective.

This lecture explores the negative side of blogging from a PR perspective.

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    PR 475 -- Dangers of Blogging for PR Professionals PR 475 -- Dangers of Blogging for PR Professionals Presentation Transcript

    • Blogging Dangers PR 475 Brett Atwood
    • Dangers of Blogging
      • Two recommendations for companies/agencies using public blogs:
        • Moderate all comments
          • One compromise: Have an e-mail address for feedback and selectively post responses
        • Policies should be established in each company on how blogs are used
          • Written policy offers some legal protection
    • Litigation Risks
      • Copyright Infringement
      • Invasion of Privacy
      • Defamation
      • Sexual Harassment
      • Hostile Work Environment Claims
      • Other Legal Risks
    • Copyright Infringement
      • Copyrighted content on your blog can result in legal action
        • Example:
          • ABC vs. “Spocko’s Brain”
    • “Deep Linking”
      • The legality is in debate
        • Most courts have found that you can “deep link” into another person’s content
          • Shetland Times vs. Shetland News
          • Ticketmaster vs. Microsoft
          • Ticketmaster vs. Tickets.com
        • Breaking News:
          • In Dec. 2006, a new court ruling in Texas found the opposite
            • SFX Motorsports vs. SuperCrossLive.com
    • Invasion of Privacy
      • Disclosure of personal facts that were not previously known to public
        • A public figure has less recourse than a private citizen
      • Can I be sued?
        • Perhaps. If it is not deemed “newsworthy” and it causes harm to the individual’s reputation and well-being
    • Invasion of Privacy
      • Example:
        • Washingtonienne.com
          • A woman in Washington D.C. posts details of her “affairs” with prominent political figures
          • One politician sued for $20 million claiming “invasion of privacy”
          • Court case is pending
    • Defamation Defined
      • A false and unprivileged statement of fact that is harmful to someone's reputation, and published "with fault," meaning as a result of negligence or malice.
      • State laws often define defamation in specific ways.
        • Libel is a written defamation
        • Slander is a spoken defamation.
    • Defamation Online
      • The US Supreme Court has said that blogs have the same protections as traditional media:
        • "in the context of defamation law, the rights of the institutional media are no greater and no less than those enjoyed by other individuals and organizations engaged in the same activities."
    • Opinion
      • The labeling of a blog published statement as “opinion” does not guarantee that it won’t be found to be libelous
        • Courts ask: “Would a ‘reasonable’ person confuse your statement for fact?”
        • The context of the statement is also examined
          • Chat rooms and blog “comments” are usually seen as “opinion” by design and are more likely to be exempt from “libel”
    • Examples of Actual Cases
      • Considered Libelous (when false):
        • Calling an attorney a "crook"
        • Describing a woman as a call girl
        • Accusing a minister of unethical conduct
        • Accusing a father of violating the confidence of son
    • Examples of Actual Cases
      • NOT Libelous:
        • Calling a TV show participant a "local loser," "chicken butt" and "big skank"
        • Calling someone a "bitch" or a "son of a bitch"
        • Changing product code name from "Carl Sagan" to "Butt Head Astronomer"
    • Trade Libel
      • Trade libel is defamation against the goods or services of a company or business.
        • For example, saying that you found a severed finger in you're a particular company's chili (if it isn't true).
    • Defamation in Blogs
      • If you repeat someone else's defamatory statement in your blog, can you be found to be held at the same standard as the original speaker?
        • This would have great implications for “guestbooks” and “comments” that are left online and/or unmoderated
    • Defamation Online
      • Recognizing the difficulty this would pose in the online world, Congress enacted Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act
        • Provides a strong protection against liability for Internet "intermediaries" who provide or republish speech by others.
    • Section 230 of the CDA
      • Protects bloggers in most circumstances
        • Bloggers are not liable for defamatory content written by “third parties”
          • Comments
          • RSS Feeds
          • Chat rooms
        • This protection does not necessarily apply to you if you hand select and publish the above content
    • Defamation
      • $11.1 million awarded in Oct. 2006 in a widely observed suit
        • Largest fine of its kind
        • A woman posted negative comments about a business owner after their transaction went bad
          • Used terms “crook,” “con artist” and “fraud”
    • Sexual Harassment
      • 27 workers fired for sexually-charged blogs and postings on MySpace
        • The Auto Club of Southern California employees made comments about weight and sexual orientation of other workers through their postings and “Friends” comments
    • Security Breaches
      • Loss of Trade Secrets
      • Confidential Information
      • Intellectual Property
    • Apple vs. Does
      • Apple Computer sued various blog and indie news sites to reveal the source of leaked “trade secrets” relating to a music project
        • The “Does” are “John Does”
          • They are the unknown parties that leaked the documents
    • Apple vs. Does
      • Apple attempted to subpoena the ISP to give up the e-mail records of those involved
      • A court ruled that the bloggers/sites were allowed to the same constitutional protections as traditional journalists
    • Regulatory Violations
      • Mismanagement of Electronic Business Records
        • There may be a legal obligation to archive all postings related to the company
          • Blogs can be used for against the company if a legal matter arises
    • Loss of Control
      • Once you cede control of the message to outsiders, there is no guarantee that they will stay “on message”
        • Comments should be moderated
        • Some sites do not allow any comments
    • Spam + Blog = “Splog”
      • Online marketers are taking advantage of the “community” aspect of blogs to deliver spam via “comments” section and other posting opportunities
    • In-Class Exercise/Homework
      • Pick a major corporation or organization and monitor the Internet for potentially damaging content
        • A list of areas to examine is on the blog
      • Write a 500-word report that summarizes your findings
        • Assume your reader is the organization’s management
        • Post on your blog
    • Homework
      • Read Chapters 2 & 3 “Blog Rules”
      • Next week:
        • We will explore online media tracking tools
          • Bacon’s MediaSource