PR 475 -- Dangers of Blogging for PR Professionals


Published on

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

Published in: Business, Technology
1 Like
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

PR 475 -- Dangers of Blogging for PR Professionals

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