I’ve been privileged enough to be connected with a variety of brilliant, articulate social media attorneys around the country. Recently one of them asked the group for their top social media legal concerns (not necessarily those of their respective employers) and in great blogging tradition I thought “I can totally steal that and make a blog post out of it!” But, being all lawyerly, I asked for their permission first. And then I turned it into a list because the moment you put a number on something the lizard part of your brain takes control of your clicking finger and you cannot resist. You know it’s true.
All links are provided by me to help provide some context or background or additional reading. But I didn’t make any links a numbered list because then you’ll never come back.
Without further obligatory filler text, here are the top 2014 social media legal concerns. Read the whole thing and you’ll get a special bonus at the end. It’s like the extra scene at the end of a Marvel movie except there’s no Nick Fury. Probably.
1. Use of Other’s Content
Jim Dudukovich, Coca-Cola (and proud Vespa owner): The recent $1.2MM jury verdict in favor of Daniel Morel regarding the use by Getty and Agence France-Presse of photographs Mr. Morel had posted to Twitter regarding the Haiti earthquake could be a seminal case regarding the danger of relying on a platform’s terms of service to re-use others’ content; the fact that the media was held liable certainly doesn’t bode well for marketers, who are not entitled to as great a license as the press.
Ryan Garcia, Dell: This is a big one because there are two areas where clients can get confused. First, when content is marked “Public” by a platform that doesn’t mean the information is truly public. At least not all the time. Sometimes it means that, mostly it means the content can be freely shared within that platform. Second, the convergence of social platforms such as Facebook purchasing Instagram leads some people to think that the content can be freely shared between platforms and that’s just not the case. They are both teachable moments but you have to remove that misunderstanding quickly.
2. Changing Promotional Rules
Chris Irving, Publishers Clearing House: Keeping abreast of ever changing Facebook promotional rules and making sure Marketing understands the “relaxed rules” are not an invitation to do everything and anything.
Jim Dudukovich, Coca-Cola: Although this one goes in the opposite direction from Facebook’s, imposing greater restrictions on marketers’ ability to conduct promotions on the platform [Pinterest].
Ryan Garcia, Dell: It’s always important to keep up with the latest changes in platform promotion requirements. Lucky for all my readers I have guides to Facebook’s latest changes (September 2013) and Pinterest’s latest changes (October 2013).
3. Disclosures for the Convergence of Social with Mobile
Brian Abamont, State Farm: How do companies go about ensuring compliance with all of the disclosure and notice expectations, not just in terms of actually including them but also the expectations as to how they are presented in a form factor that puts real estate at a premium and has more limited presentation capabilities (e.g. just in time notification and proximity of disclosures to content). How can this be addressed with little standardization across the mobile OS environments for these types of things?
Chris Irving, Publishers Clearing House: Helping internal clients interpret and understand scope of FTC ‘s updated Online Disclosure Guidelines (while at the same time trying to fully understand what they really mean myself!)
4. Privacy, Privacy, Privacy
Chris Irving, Publishers Clearing House: Working with cross sectional compliance teams on all things Privacy. As our digital footprint continues to grow, expanding efforts to insure that privacy is baked in at design and that best practices can keep pace with fast growth. Issues include online behavioral advertising, keeping privacy polices current, keeping privacy highlights pages current, understanding changes to polices and what accompany disclosures are necessary . . . . .
Brian Abamont, State Farm: I would also place a strong “seconded” support behind Chris’ point about privacy and add that the rules are changing at a rapid pace across not just federal/national levels but also various states and provinces across North America and the rest of the world. Furthermore, in some cases, the rules have been created after an alleged offense and seemingly applied retroactively, at a minimum from a reputational standpoint.
Daniel S. Goldman, Mayo Clinic: Probably less a legal issue (at present), though I think there will be increasing regulation over time. I think the issue is the public’s increasing concern about the data that is being collected/monetized by social platforms and by commercial entities and what can be divined about them from that data. This plays out across many spectrums. The most obvious is the negative reaction to targeted/behavioral ads, but also reflects a concern about analytics that is done on data that is collected (e.g. the “Target Article”). I think there is a growing public perception that there is a digital “permanent record” about all of us that companies are mining to sell them stuff.
5. Fraud Fighting
Chris Irving, Publishers Clearing House: Expanding efforts to fight scammers and fraudsters on the internet who would use our name to deceive. Efforts include enhanced consumer education, public private partnerships and supporting stronger criminal penalties in Jamaica where a majority of these scams are originating.
6. Increased Attention to “Commercial Creep” and Transparency
Jim Dudukovich, Coca-Cola: This manifests itself in a few ways, from the FTC’s workshop on native advertising and the search for answers as to what consumer expectations are and the scope of consumers’ ability to distinguish between editorial/creative content vs. sponsored content/branded integration, to the NY AG’s “Operation Clean Turf” (investigating and penalizing the practice of publishing fake reviews). Not to mention the attention the NAD has placed on native advertising/transparency (eSalon and Mashable/Qualcomm).
7. Social Behavioral Advertising
8. Reputational Public Relations and Marketing on Social Media
Jim Dudukovich, Coca-Cola: We’ve seen more and more instances in which the speed of social media marketing has trumped judgment, and major brands, either directly or through agencies, and sometimes even accidentally, have pushed out messaging that they later regretted (and perhaps wouldn’t have published had they engaged in a more rigorous internal review process).
Jessica Fredrickson, Walmart: Blurred lines between marketing and reputational PR. Our clients are increasingly using reputational “advertising” to promote our good works (#RealWalmart). Whether these messages translate into sales isn’t clear and how these messages should be managed through a review process and with appropriate disclaimers is not consistent.
9. Changes to TCPA Express Written Consent Rules
Chris Irving, Publishers Clearing House: Providing internal guidance to clients on the changing TCPA consent requirements applicable to text messaging campaigns as well as the necessary vetting for third party ads appearing on our sites where there is phone collection.
Ryan Garcia, Dell: The JOBS Act changes continue to come in and we have a market where many more people are comfortable with Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms. The possibility of actual equity investment for the masses, as opposed to paying for items that help fund a project, has huge positive and negative ramifications. People getting upset over late deliveries for a Kickstarter project are one thing–thousands of equity investors being upset over the direction of a brand new company is another altogether. Here’s a longer post on the subject from Perkins Coie.
And here’s your bonus as promised in the headline (and at no extra charge to you!). Here’s a list of the top social media legal issues as presented by Mark Bisard (here’s his Twitter because he’s social!), social media and general digital guru for American Express. These are all the details he provided or else he could have been incorporated into the main list, but instead it’s a bonus list for you. And there’s 16 things here, which makes it approximately 60% longer than the list above! Enjoy and happy holidays!
- Year of the Hashtag
- Selfie is word of the year (see reputational risk parallels with Obama photo)
- Internet of Things (TRENDnet and FTC workshop)
- Virtual Currencies (Largely BitCoin but also push to have VC like Farmville regulated like other FIs)
- Mobile-Social Convergence results in Net Domination (or staggering blow in battle between search and social)
- Real Time Marketing (Oreo-SuperBowl and West Jet type marketing, Multi Screen viewing consumption trends, internal agile and lean ux organizational changes)
- Evolution of Cause Based Marketing to Issue Based Marketing (I made this up, but think Haiti relief on over to the surge of woman’s issue ads like Pantene, Goldblox, and etc)
- Data Security (spooky Aaron’s rental case, Blackberry’s death means more BYOD, President’s Exec Order, zip code cases, Hacks on big social platforms, Living Social’s 50 million person breach, the largest financial data breach in history (160 million credit card numbers stolen, but damages still hard to prove for consumers)
- Rise of Snapchat and rejection of FB offer (new kid in town?)
- Reed Hastings – Netflix- SEC response
- Platform, rules and feature changes (FB, Pinterest – FB buys Instagram, Yahoo buys Tumblr, Google buysWaze – iOS7, new gTLDs and wearables – offers and gaming platforms like Groupon and Farmville struggle)
- Regulators do their best to catch up and evolve (FTC, FFIEC, SEC, TCPA, California, State Password Protection laws, and even P-1A Visa issues for professional gamers signal evolution)
- Transparency is clear trend (Operation Clean Turf, Native Advertising workshop, FTC’s renewed interest in black hat search practices, FTC action against spammers
- OPP – “Public” – AFP & Getty case, GoldiBlox v The Beastie Boys saga (we were right—there’s a difference between publicly “accessible” and “publicly available for any damn thing I want” – shocker I know)
- Big Surveillance – Big Data (big news, little in the way of change – Big data becoming legit biz practice but still fighting rep battle, Tech Titans letter to President is interesting, Path case and use of ECPA’s Wiretap Act and Store Comms Act to attack Google and others also interesting)
- The Wallet Wars I think are the biggest news of the year. Huge array of players/participants, consumer options. Ready to burst. Regulators are weighing in. Bigger than VHS vs. Beta. Hopefully beta wins this time.