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Ethics & Etiquette Online


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Ethics & Etiquette Online

  1. 1. Ethics & Etiquette
  2. 2. Overview • Transparency • Fake Blogs & Ghost Blogging • Astroturfing • Netiquette
  3. 3. What Do You Need to Know? • Transparency/Disclosure • Be honest • Get permission • Think before you speak • If someone shares your content, thank them
  4. 4. Ghost Blogging • Paying someone to write blog posts • Violation of transparency • Once someone finds out, it shows that you (the company) are disingenuous and makes people think you have something to hide • Example: Kanye West • Blog posts kept getting published under his name when he was in jail • Difference between this and character blogs (Captain Morgan)
  5. 5. Lying/Misrepresentation • Lying • Just because people may not be able to see who is on the other side, social media has also been able to reveal liars • Misrepresentation • Do not pretend to be someone you are not • But does virtual reality sites like Second Life promote this?
  6. 6. Scenario Boss comes to you, the intern, and asks you to tweet for him. Your boss is well-known in the industry with a huge following. While at a large conference, he wants to appear to be active, but doesn’t have time to tweet himself. What do you do?
  7. 7. Scenario Solutions • Multi-author • Set reminder that team members may be tweeting • Every so many number posts, reminder of team tweets • If characters permit, add a hash tag to denote team post • Learn his/her voice
  8. 8. Examples
  9. 9. Examples
  10. 10. Examples
  11. 11. Astroturfing • Political, advertising, or public relations campaigns that are formally planned by an organization, but designed to mask its origins to create the impression of being spontaneous, popular "grassroots" behavior.
  12. 12. Astroturfing: Example • 2006 • Wal-Marting Across America • Jim & Laura • Stories about their trips around the U.S. in the RV and staying in Wal-Mart parking lots
  13. 13. Astroturfing: Example • Turns out to be a fabrication/distorted view • Funded by Wal-Mart & Edelman, public relations advisor • Some form/sum of money was being sent to Jim & Laura to say nice things • Relevant info • Same time controversies about low wages at Wal-Mart • Wal-Mart accused of altering its Wikipedia entry in 2005 by removing its wages being lower than min. wage (replace it with they paid double min. wage)
  14. 14. Netiquette • E-mail • • • • • • • Be brief Clear subject line Appropriate language Proper signature Ask permission to forward Do not spam Copyright laws • Respect others Privacy
  15. 15. Best Practices: Twitter • Pick an appropriate photo of yourself • Private and company account? Be careful which you tweet too • Do not tweet during meetings or special events (unless asked or encouraged too) • Do not overuse hash tags • Attempt to use proper grammar and avoid abbreviations • Use direct messages for private conversations • Use it for conversation, not venting (or when you are drunk)
  16. 16. Best Practices: How often? • Some Guidelines • Blog everyday or once per week – but remember, its not all about selling, but providing valuable content • Tweet as often as you want, but don’t get carried away • Facebook status updates can be daily or a few times per day • If you are inspired by someone’s post, give them credit by linking text or placing it at the end of the text
  17. 17. Future • See a lot of employee handbooks that cover social media • Disclosure forms/interviews
  18. 18. References • Tweeting Under False Circumstances
  19. 19. Legal Issues “Internet today resembles the Old West of American history” (Fertik and Thompson, 2010)
  20. 20. The Transparent Society • David Brin book (1998) • “Light is going to shine into nearly every corner of our lives.” • Brin’s focus was on surveillance technologies and his call for a “reciprocal transparency” where government was “Big Brother”
  21. 21. A Transparent Society • Tapscott and Williams (2011) focus on social media’s effect on privacy laws and regulations. • “Privacy and data protection laws ensure that organizations collect, use, retain and disclose our personal information in a confidential manner. But today the biggest threat is not other organizations, it’s us.” • Tapscott and Williams’ statement carried great validity especially with the emergence of the Web 2.0 era.
  22. 22. YouTube • To date, most legal issues revolve around YouTube violating: • defamation, • privacy, or • copyright law and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act • “strengthened the legal protection of intellectual property rights in the wake of emerging new information communication technologies, i.e., the Internet” (Indiana University, 2009).
  23. 23. Comm Law Review (or Intro) • Defamation • Any intentional false communication, either written or spoken, that harms a person's reputation; decreases the respect, regard, or confidence in which a person is held; or induces disparaging, hostile, or disagreeable opinions or feelings against a person. • Libel – written • Slander – spoken Legal Dictionary Online
  24. 24. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) • Signed into law on October 28, 1998 by President Clinton • Made changes to US Copyright Act • Penalizes copyright infringement on the Internet • Criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures that control access to copyrighted works Wikipedia
  25. 25. Voluntary v. Involuntary • Paradigm of openness • Voluntary – providing information and participating • Domino’s Case Study • Involuntary – information becoming public, but not by one’s choice • Rathergate
  26. 26. So what happens when someone discloses information or private documents not intended to go public?
  27. 27. Wikileaks • Julian Assange, a transparency advocate, releasing confidential U.S. foreign policy documents (involuntary transparency) • “Whether we like it or not, the new, involuntary transparency calls for a new code of behavior, on dictated by the reality that we can never assume we are alone or unwatched” (Bennis, Goleman, & O’Toole, 2008, p. 17-18). • An attempt to create a more open and transparent society in an effort to drive greater ethical behavior among companies and government with the belief that their efforts will bring more good than harm • These types of situations will force government and companies to reassess their crisis communication plan to adopt policies and strategies for dealing with instances where information about their company may be leaked, and how they will respond to it in a timely manner.
  28. 28. Legal Cases • Dominick v. MySpace • Corbett v. Twitter, Inc. • La Russa v. Twitter, Inc. • ONEOK v. Twitter, Inc.
  29. 29. Dominick v. MySpace • May 12, 2008 • Location: Illinois • Legal Claims: Defamation • Larry Dominick, Town President of Cicero Illinois • Filed a “Petition of Discovery” seeking the identity of the MySpace user who had created two false profiles of Dominick
  30. 30. Dominick v. MySpace • Claiming “defamation, invasion of privacy, and related torts arising from various statements on a social networking website known as MySpace.” • The petition continued: “These profiles falsely state that they are profiles of the petitioner, falsely state that they were created, posted, and published by the petitioner, and include defamatory matter concerning the petitioner” (Petition, 2008, 1). • Although he provided no details to support his claim that the statements about him were false, MySpace removed the pages in question.
  31. 31. Dominick v. MySpace • On June 4, 2008, the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) responded, arguing in an amicus brief that the First Amendment protects anonymous speech unless Dominick could demonstrate a viable defamation claim • Dominick withdrew his petition on June 13th without stating his reasons for doing so • EFF stated publically that Dominick failed to provide specific allegations of defamation, or any proof that the allegedly defamatory statements were false.
  32. 32. Corbett v. Twitter • May 6, 2010 • Location: Pennsylvania • Legal Claims: Other • Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania Attorney General • Requested an investigative grand jury to issue a subpoena requesting Twitter respond by providing the identities of two anonymous Twitter account users that had criticized the Attorney General as he competed in the Republican Primary for that party’s gubernatorial nomination (Subpoena)
  33. 33. Corbett v. Twitter • News reports indicated that the subpoenas may in part be an attempt to unmask the authors of a blog critical of Corbett (Citizen Media Law Project) • Free speech advocates criticized Corbett as an abuse of his official powers as attorney general to silence critics through political retaliation
  34. 34. Corbett v. Twitter • “Anonymous speech is a longstanding American right” • Paul Alan Levy of the Public Citizen Litigation Group, a Washington organization that has defended anonymous commenters who have been sued by companies and politicians • “…any subpoena seeking to unmask the identity of anonymous critics raises the specter of political retaliation.” • Witold Walczak, legal director for the A.C.L.U. of Pennsylvania
  35. 35. Corbett v. Twitter • The Attorney General withdrew the subpoena on May 19, 2010 • Corbett offered no comment as to why the order had withdrawn, responding only that the subpoena had been part of a grand jury investigation and that he could not offer comment beyond that
  36. 36. La Russa v. Twitter, Inc. • May 5, 2009 • Location: California • Legal Claims: Cybersquatting; Right of Publicity; Trademark Infringement; Trademark Dilution • Anthony (Tony) La Russa, manager of St. Louis Cardinals • Filed a complaint in the Superior Court of California against Twitter, Inc., alleging that the defendant maintains a site allegedly be owned by La Russa, containing his photograph and written statements implied to have been made by the plaintiff
  37. 37. La Russa v. Twitter, Inc. • The statements are claimed to be highly derogatory, suggesting alcohol abuse, and damaging to La Russa’s reputation and his trademark rights • The complaint contended that the domain name of the site, and the use of the plaintiff ’s name dilute the plaintiff ’s trademark, his name • Creates the misleading impression that La Russa authors the site
  38. 38. La Russa v. Twitter, Inc. • In October 2009, the case was removed from the Superior Court’s calendar, the media reporting various conflicting terms of settlement • PCWorld offered the following insights into the weaknesses: • First, La Russa should know that celebrity is going to generate parody through imitation (similar to SNL) • Twitter has an anti-imitation process for reporting and removing attempts at impersonation, which La Russa did not pursue
  39. 39. La Russa v. Twitter, Inc. • Second, the same policy states that parody impersonations are permissible if clearly labeled as parody • Third, online service providers are shielded from responsibility for third-party expression • Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 prohibits a claim such as La Russas
  40. 40. ONEOK, Inc. v. Twitter • September 15, 2009 • Location: Oklahoma • Legal Claims: Trademark Infringement • ONEOK Inc., a natural gas company in Oklahoma • Filed suit against Twitter on counts of trademark infringement and contributory infringement, alleging that an anonymous user had created and employed an imposter Twitter account using the name ONEOK and the corporate trademark
  41. 41. ONEOK, Inc. v. Twitter • Their complaint alleges that the imposter account had tweeted corporate related information, which they held to be potentially damaging to ONEOK’s public image in the investor community and energy industry, and negatively impact the company’s shareholders • ONEOK sought to obtain the imposter’s identity and contact information, and to have the ONEOK account assigned to them • Twitter refused to do so in both instances, at point which ONEOK filed suit, seeking a permanent injunction against further use of this account
  42. 42. ONEOK, Inc. v. Twitter • The case was dropped by ONEOK, Inc., perhaps following the removal of the site by Twitter. • Issues such as this may be the motivation behind Twitter’s decision to introduce “Verified Accounts” • Celebrities, athletes, public officials, etc., can display “verified account” status on their Twitter pages • Allows those notables to distinguish their legitimate sites from impersonators
  43. 43. What Do We Need to Know? • Global computer-based technologies now ignore traditional territorial boundaries and new boundaries separated by usernames and passwords create the boundaries of Cyberspace (Post & Johnson, 2006) • New boundaries now threaten traditional laws
  44. 44. “There is no sheriff in town, and Internet users have been left with rough frontier justice” (Fertik & Johnson, 2010)
  45. 45. Online Regulation Today • September 2009 • Texas enacted H.B. No. 2003, making it a third-degree felony to impersonate individuals on social networking websites “relating to the creation of the offense of online harassment” (HB2003 Act) • Also includes text messages: • Section 33.07 states: • “A person commits an offense if the person uses the name or persona of another person to create a webpage on or to post on or more messages on a commercial social networking site: (1) without obtaining the other person’s consent; and (2) with the intent to harm, defraud, intimidate, or threaten any person”
  46. 46. Online Regulation Today • January 1, 2011 • The state of California passed State Bill 1411, making it a misdemeanor to impersonate another individual online • “This bill would provide that any person who knowingly and without consent credibly impersonates another actual person through or on an Internet Web site or by other electronic means, as specified, for purposes of harming, intimidating, threatening, or defrauding another person is guilty of a misdemeanor. The bill would, in addition to the specified criminal penalties, authorize a person who suffers damage or loss to bring a civil action against any person who violates that provision, as specified.”
  47. 47. Online Regulation Raises Questions • Anonymous speech • Parody and satire • Commercial speech and trademark dilution • Back to boarders, what happens when the violator is not from the state of Texas or California?
  48. 48. Want to Learn More? • Larry Lessig, Harvard Law Professor • Code as Law • American Bar Association Convention Keynote
  49. 49. References Amicus Brief, Larry Dominick v. MySpace, Inc., Electronic Freedom Foundation, Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois County Department Law Division. June 4, 2008. Bennis, W., Goleman, D., & O’Toole, J. (2008). Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Brin, D. (1998). The transparent society: will technology force us to choose between privacy and freedom. Reading, MA: AddisonWesley. Fertik, M., & Thompson, D. (2010). Wild west 2.0: how to protect and restore your online reputation on the untamed social frontier. New York, NY: American Management Association. Indiana University. (2009, July 20). What is the digital millennium copyright act?. Retrieved from  Johnson, D. & Post, D. (1996). Law and borders--The rise of law in cyberspace. Stanford Law Review, May, pp. 1-20. Tapscott, D., & Williams, A. D. (2011, January 1). Social media's unexpected threat [Web log message]. Retrieved from