Social networking and personal liability: What you don't know CAN hurt you
What you don’t know CAN hurt you<br />Social networking and personal liability<br />iFoundry workshop, Sept. 9, 2009<br />Prof. Laura L. Hollis<br />
Five things you need to be concerned about:<br />Defamation<br />Invasion of privacy<br />Contributory liability for others’ tortious or criminal conduct<br />Prospective employers and others’ access<br />Your own safety<br />
Defamation<br />Civil liability for FALSE information that damages a person’s reputation<br />“Publication” – means that a third party hears or reads the statement<br />You can be liable for repetition, as well as origination<br />Defamation “per se” – when the conduct alleged is truly heinous, damages are presumed<br />Truth is an absolute defense….<br />BUT!<br />
Invasion of privacy<br />Civil liability for disseminating information in which people ordinarily have an expectation of privacy<br />“public disclosure of private facts”<br />If highly offensive to a reasonable person<br />And not of legitimate concern to the general public<br />PHOTOS COUNT!<br />
Contributory liability for others’ tortious or criminal conduct<br />http://news.cnet.com/2100-1030_3-6151096.html<br />(Parents sue MySpace for criminal sexual assault against their daughter)<br />This is a newer theory of recovery, but you should be aware of it. Could you be sued because something YOU posted exposed another person to danger?<br />
Employers’ and others’ access to YOUR information<br />No right of privacy to information published on social networking sites<br />Employers can set up MySpace or Facebook accounts and have access to your information<br />2005 ExecuNetsurvey: 75% of recruiters already use web searching as part of the applicant screening process, and more than 25% say they have eliminated candidates based on information they found online.<br />NBC News: 77% of employers uncover information about candidates online; 35% percent of them have eliminated candidates based on information they have uncovered.<br />A poll by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that almost 27% of 254 surveyed employers admitted to reviewing applicants' profiles on social networking sites, such as MySpace and Facebook, before hiring them.<br />What is on YOUR page? Are you “tagged” on others’ pages?<br />
Employers’ and others’ access to YOUR information - examples<br />“Right before we interviewed a recent college graduate, we discovered that one of his interests listed on his [social networking] profile is ‘Smokin' blunts with the homies, and bustin' caps in whitey’ and one of his favorite quotes is ‘Beware of big butts and a smile.’ Our ‘first impression’ of our candidate was officially tainted, and he had little hope of regaining a professional image in our eyes. He was not hired.”<br />Brad Karsh, President, JobBound<br />“Ana Homayoun, the manager of a small educational consulting firm in San Francisco, visited Duke University in the spring of 2006 to interview a potential job applicant. Before interviewing her, however, Homayoun decided to look at the applicant's Facebook page. There she found "explicit photographs and commentary about the student's sexual escapades, drinking and pot smoking, including testimonials from friends," in addition to pictures of the applicant "passed out after drinking." "When I saw that, I thought, "O.K., so much for that,'“ said Homayoun.”<br />Alan Finder, When a Risqué Online Persona Undermines a Chance for a Job, <br />New York Times, June 11, 2006<br />
Employers’ and others’ access to YOUR information – an example close to home<br />“An anecdote reveals the powerful effect such background investigations may have. The president of a small consulting company in Chicago logged onto Facebook to research a recent University of Illinois graduate who was applying for a summer intern position. On the site the president found the applicant's profile, which listed his interests as ‘smokin' blunts' ... , shooting people and obsessive sex, all described in vivid slang.’ Needless to say, in this case the applicant's Facebook profile prevented him from getting the job. What once was considered a private realm for the younger generation is becoming widely known to the older generation," and employers are increasingly capitalizing on the informational abundance provided by this new realm.”<br />Ian Byrnside, Note, “Six Clicks of Separation: The Legal Ramifications of Employers Using Social Networking Sites to Research Applicants” 10 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. L. 445 <br />(Winter, 2008 )<br />
Think about your OWN safety:<br /> How well do you know the people you allow access to your pages? What about the people they know?<br />“Consider the example of Freddi Staur, a toy frog with a Facebook account. In a recent study conducted by Sophos, a Boston-based Internet security company, Freddi ‘friended’ 200 Facebook members. Of the 200, 82 accepted the frog's friendship request, and Freddi was thereby able to view these Facebook members' personal information. Sophos' ‘research shows that 41% of Facebook users will divulge personal information-such as e-mail, address, date of birth and phone number-to a complete stranger.’Additionally, strangers were, in most cases, given access to family photos, ...”<br />Sophos, “Facebook: The Privacy and Productivity Challenge,” http://www.sophos.com/security/topic/facebook.ht<br />as cited in Samantha L. Millier, Note: The Facebook Frontier: <br />Responding to the Changing Face of Privacy on the Internet, 97 Ky. L.J. 541 (2008-9)<br />
What’s the MORAL of the story?<br />Don’t reveal information about yourself that you wouldn’t want broadcast on TV or on a billboard in Times Square<br />Don’t publish embarrassing or personal information about yourself or anyone else, or post compromising photos<br />Don’t reveal your schedule, post or “tweet” that you or anyone else is alone<br />Don’t reveal information like phone numbers, e-mail addresses, street addresses, social security numbers, etc.<br />When in doubt, LEAVE IT OUT.<br />
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