Another year of my Law & Social Media class at the University of Texas School of Law is in the books. The grades have been entered and now I can share with you all this year’s final exam. Let me know your thoughts/answers in the comments!
It’s your first day on the job at Maramountal Bros. studio, makers of every movie you’ve ever seen and quite a few you haven’t. You’ve been lucky enough to join their newly formed Social Media Division, and while they plan on eventually extending the department to more people, for now the entire staff consists of you and a laptop. And the laptop doesn’t have a law degree.
The Head of Marketing bursts into your office like his hair is on fire. Which is impressive, since he’s bald.
“We’ve got a situation!” he yells with an exclamation point. He goes on to describe how the latest movie in their massive hit franchise is about to be released. The series of movies is based on superheroes who drive around the world in exotic cars and fight crime or each other. While the cars are typically turbo charged by NOS (nitrous oxIde), in this latest film a new Totally Hyper Active NOS (or THANOS) has been developed. It’s incredibly powerful but has a good chance of killing people so it must be stopped.
Your head of marketing is upset because some people at advance screenings are starting to post spoilers on social media. The studio is concerned that if these spoilers continue to spread then nobody will see the movie.
“I mean, I want it to be a surprise when [REDACTED] dies or when [BELOVED REDACTED] bites it,” he mutters, while actually saying the word redacted as he speaks.
The majority of these posts are appearing on the hot social media platform, MADE-UP. The platform was created a year ago and continues to serve the needs of fictional social media users and social media law professors everywhere. And, your head of marketing points out, it’s a platform where you spend several million dollars a year on advertising.
MADE-UP’s terms and conditions do say that “Content may be removed at the sole discretion of MADE-UP for failing to contribute to our community.” But so far, MADE-UP has refused to remove any of the posts Maramountal Bros. has flagged.
The head of marketing would like you to compose an email to the MADE-UP General Counsel to try and convince them to remove the posts. And since time is of the essence, he wants you to anticipate their responses so you won’t have a lot of back and forth. But he’s willing to give you an hour to write it. So hop to it.
No sooner do you hit Send on the email to MADE-UP when your head of Human Relations comes storming into your office. Which is impressive because there’s actually a storm cloud floating around her head.
“You’re the Social Media lawyer, right?” she says as lightning strikes her chin. You nod, a bit afraid to speak. “Yeah, so it turns out some of those spoiler leaks for the new movie, Endless Skirmishes—you know, the one about THANOS—came from our employees. Our own employees! It makes me so mad!” A small tornado emerges from her left nostril and violently recedes.
“It turns out we don’t even have a social media policy! How is that even possible?” she screams as a hailstone falls out of her ear. “Listen, I know one hour is way too short for you to draft a social media policy for our whole company, but I have a meeting with some important people in 60 minutes. Really important people whose names and positions I can’t think of right now. But I’m going to need to tell them about what we’re going to do for a social media policy.
“Can you give me some highlights of what we can and can’t do for our employee’s social media policy?” she asks while a rainbow bursts from her eyebrow. “And please make it easy to understand—I’m not a lawyer and none of the actual, real-life people I’m meeting with that I didn’t just make up are lawyers either.”
You sit back, open the umbrella you conveniently packed in your laptop bag, and turn back to your laptop. Compose something easy for non-lawyers to understand about what your social media policy for employees should and shouldn’t have in it.
You’ve just handed off your material to the head of Human Relations when the Vice-President in Charge of Movie Development and Overly Long Job Titles sits down at your desk. Which is impressive, because there isn’t a chair on the other side of your desk.
“Social Media and movies, who would think those go together, am I right?” he says while you wonder how he hasn’t fallen down. You nod, afraid to upset his balance.
“So listen, turns out we just acquired the rights to two old movies: Chef and Catfish. My people tell me those movies have some good social media lessons in them—as if people would actually watch movies for social media lessons! I want to combine the two movies and call it Cheffish and I want to make it super educational about social media. You know, really tell people about the risks they or their company may face on social media.
“I’m going around to all the departments and asking them what kinds of lessons I should include in the new movie. I’m definitely interested in what you learned from the movies—wait, you watched the movies, right?” You nod, because of course you watched the movies. It was listed on the job requirements the whole semester…um, job interview process.
“Would you mind telling me what kinds of lessons I should put in the new movie? Feel free to reference the old movies, or make up whatever you want. This is the movie business, after all.”
He stands up, making you wonder again how he was sitting, and casually strolls out of your office. Just as he passes the door he yells back “Anytime in the next hour will be fine!”
Grinning wildly because you totally watched both those movies, you write out your proposed lessons for the new film.