Tag Archives: Final Exam

So You Want To See A Social Media Law Final? (2017 Edition)

It’s that special time of year again when I have just submitted the final grades for my Law & Social Media class at the University of Texas School of Law.  Hard to believe that I’ve been teaching it for five years now but every year brings something new to the area.  This year’s exam was inspired by some recent events, the Gabbing Geek podcast, and a few too many detective movies (well, really, all the Dresden Files books).  How would you have done?

Question One

She keeps looking out the dirty windows to make sure her Tesla isn’t being broken into. Your office is in that part of town, a part that she normally won’t be caught dead in. But here she is now.

“Mind if I smoke?” she asks, tapping on a silver cigarette holder that you thought only existed in black and white hard-boiled detective films.

“Yeah.” You toss your thumb to point at the giant “NO SMOKING” sign on the wall behind you. Right next to the “Social Media Fixer, Inc.” sign you used to hang on the outside door but too many people kept marking it up.

“They said you could help me,” she says in disbelief. Looking around the threadbare office, she looks like she’s been the victim of an online prank.

“Maybe,” you tell her. “Don’t judge me by the offices. I’m a big deal on Instagram. That was a joke.” You offer the last part because you’re not sure if she’s ever heard a joke, judging on the look she’s giving you. Or maybe you’re just telling it wrong.

“Fine,” she settles back into her chair. An impressive feat because you know how uncomfortable that chair feels. “I run an incredibly successful social media platform called Modular Academic Dreams Exist, Uniquely Personal. But everyone just calls it MADE-UP. We have hundreds of millions of users around the world. We allow them to share content with each other, interact with their friends’ posts, and even schedule events.”

“So, like Facebook,” you respond.

“Yes, but MADE-UP. Anyway, when we first launched we had one sentence for our Terms of Use: ‘Be cool.’ But now we realize that we need a more…robust document.”

“Might help,” you offer.

“Right. But I’m really not sure where to start. And I need to convince my Board of Directors to make the change. Could you give me some advice? Maybe start with three of the most important parts of the Terms of Use we should create, and some kind of strategy for rolling out those changes? Something I can take back to my Board because…” she glances out the window, “I doubt they’ll want to come here.”

“No problem,” you tell her. She leaves. You crack your knuckles and start typing.

Question Two

Six months later, the MADE-UP CEO is back in the uncomfortable chair. She left the Tesla at home this time, electing to take a taxi since Uber and Lyft still haven’t come back to this part of town. She looks about as comfortable as last time but just the fact that she’s back means you gave her good advice and she knows it.“Those Terms you wrote are great,” she says. “Okay, more than great. They’ve

“Those Terms you wrote are great,” she says. “Okay, more than great. They’ve really helped us out of some problems and our outside counsel say that without those Terms we would’ve been in a lot of trouble.” You try not to look too hurt to discover she’s hired other lawyers.

“But the one argument our other lawyers” ouch “keep facing is when users claim they never saw the new Terms. So we want to make a giant, splashy campaign all around the Terms. We don’t just want people to see them—we want them to WANT to see them!

“So I came up with a plan and everyone tells me it’s brilliant,” she smiles. Probably because you’re the CEO, I think, but wisely don’t say. She continues, “I want you to give me some honest feedback. It’s a two part plan.

“First, I want to create a graphic novel out of our Terms of Use. We’ll hire artists to create pages that copy other comic books, only instead of people talking or thinking or whatever they do in comic books, it’ll be our Terms instead. Since the pages will look like the most famous comic book heroes everyone will want to read it. We’ll use all the best heroes: Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Madame Xanadu—the true icons of the industry!

“And then second, we’ll do something similar but with video. I know some digital artists who say they can take video clips from the hottest movies and TV shows and then alter the characters’ lips to show them reading our Terms. We’ll hire some celebrity impersonators to do the characters voices so it’ll look like these people in The Walking Dead or The Magicians or Better Call Saul are reading our Terms!”

You grimace. She notices.

“What?” she asks. “Tell me what’s wrong with that plan. Or tell me what works. Just tell me!”

You take a deep breath and tell her what you’ve been thinking.

Question Three

Another six months, another taxi drops off the MADE-UP CEO at your doorstep. Well, your landlord’s doorstep. She eyes the chair warily before sitting back down in it. You’ve been meaning to get a more comfortable chair. But you haven’t.

“I should have come to you sooner,” she starts. “Especially since you’ve given me such great advice before. But I’ve learned my lesson. We fired our General Counsel over this mess—help us fix this problem and the job is yours. I’m guessing it pays…” she adjusts herself in the uncomfortable chair, “Slightly more than your current wages.

“Our marketing team started working with the most influential users on our platform. People with tens of thousands of followers. We would connect those users with brands wanting to promote their products. It was a win-win situation, the marketing team told me.”

“Marketers,” you nod knowingly.

“Right. So we had this program. Brands pay us a few thousand dollars, we pass most of that money along to the users, and the users would post pictures and videos of themselves using the products. And we would help promote that content by giving it preferential viewing for anyone on our MADE-UP platform.

“About a dozen of the brands and the influential users in the program got some letter from the FTC. And now those brands are upset with us because we never told them about some need to disclose? Is that really a thing? I guess it is.

“Now we need to change our program so that our brand partners and influential users are following the disclosure rules. I need you to draft some kind of rules or communications or training or something so that I can make everyone understand what they need to do.

“Tell me what to do for our brands, for our users, and for my marketing department. Fix this and you’ll be our new General Counsel.”

You stand up and remove the “Social Media Fixer, Inc.” sign from the wall. You won’t be needing it anymore after you give her your advice.

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Social Media Law Final (You Know You’re Curious)

Because triumph.

While I enjoy many aspects of being a social media lawyer one of my absolute favorites is teaching a class I developed at the University of Texas School of Law.  This spring I taught the class for a second time to an even larger class and had many entertaining classes and conversations throughout the year.  We even had to deal with actual ice cancellations and fake ice cancellations and held one class virtually over Adobe Connect.  All in all, a fun semester.

Since my class covers a variety of legal subjects impacted by social media, the final also covers a number of different topics.  And just like last year when I posted the first law school exam I gave, below is an embed of this year’s final.  Now you can play along and imagine what you would respond if you had to take this final.  I omitted the first page which was just directions–just know it was open book and students had three hours to take the exam.  Each question was weighed equally.

Oh, and there’s a social media easter egg hidden in the final.  Let me know if you find it.

Update: Jason Ross found the easter egg first, so congrats to him!  Yes, I rickrolled my students, they just didn’t realize it.  Read the first letter of each line of the final.

 

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Want To Know What A Social Media Law Final Looks Like?

Not that anyone actually writes law school finals with a pen, but you get the point.

Thinking about going to law school or want to revisit those horrifying amazing three years of your life?  If you’re curious about a law school final, or what a final looks like for a social media law class, then you’ve come to the right blog post.

Long time readers may recall when I first announced I’d be teaching a class at the University of Texas School of Law on Law and Social Media.  Last night I finished entering the grades for my students and so the class is officially over.  It was a blast to teach and I hope I get invited back to do it again, although developing the material was a lot more work than I expected.  Yes, I was warned this would be the case but I thought that all the other material I had in training about various social media legal issues would help.  They did–but it still took a lot of time to convert that into a format that was better for students.  That’s a big reason why this blog has been so silent these last few months.

As I mentioned in the original post, my class was about the many different legal topics that social media impacts.  There’s a lot of attention around social marketing and for good reason–that’s a highly regulated area and one that’s ripe with consumer protection issues.  But that is just one area I wanted to cover–employment, free speech, privacy, and several other topics were worth exploring.  I wanted my final to touch upon several topics while giving the students a bit of a taste of practicing in this emerging field.

Just to put this in context, the students had three hours to complete this exam (including reading time).  They could use any notes they created or assisted in creating and all three questions were weighted equally.  The final is shown below.  No, I’m not going to give you my model answers but feel free to ask questions in the comments about any issues you see.

Question One

Congratulations!  After four rounds of interviews and a grueling series of one-on-one discussions with the Board of Directors, you have been appointed General Counsel to BCB — the only social network dedicated to Bacon, Cats, and Babies.  With over four million users and an average of one million new pieces of content daily, BCB is one of the hottest social networks in the world.  It’s basic functionality allows users to upload a photo that features either Bacon, Cats, or Babies (or combination thereof).  These photos can be Liked and Shared and the picture can also be linked to some other online location–users browsing the site can click on the photo to be taken to the link provided by the original content creator.  Unfortunately, the site has yet to make any revenue and its initial funding is being consumed by the massive servers BCB must use.

BCB’s VP of Making Money has decided to make money through affiliate programs.  He would like every piece of content to be linked to an item that can be purchased from a web site.  Each link would contain a code that gives credit for the sale to BCB and the sites have agreed to pay BCB 3% of all sales.  For pieces of content that are posted without a link, BCB’s software will automatically select the optimal commercial item to link to the content and embed BCB’s affiliate code.  If the piece of content posted by the user already has a link then one of two things will happen:

1. If the link is to a non-commercial page, that link will be moved to a special button under the photo and the photo itself will then be linked to a commercial item similar to photos without links.

2. If the link is to a commercial page then the BCB affiliate code will be embedded in the URL.  If the link already has an affiliate code, that original affiliate code will be stripped out and replaced by the BCB affiliate code.

BCB’s Terms of Use section that deals with content says the following:

You can only post content you have permission to post.  Anything you post may be used by BCB as part of normal site functionality or in our efforts to make money.

Draft an email to the VP of Making Money describing the risks of his proposed plan and the changes to the Terms of Use you would propose to address those risks.

Question Two

The VP of Marketing for BCB has come to you with a plan for a new contest and would like your advice on how to proceed.  The contest would run for the month of May and invite all site users to submit their best BCB content that includes pictures of Google, Owen Wilson, or Vince Vaughn (in addition to the obligatory Bacon, Cat, or Baby).  He is hoping to capitalize on the popularity of the upcoming movie The Internship in which Wilson and Vaughn play unpaid interns at Google and is also hoping the contest has side benefits of making BCB show up in more Google searches.  He would like to give away $15,000 to the best content in terms of ten $500 prizes, one $2,500 prize, and one $7,500 prize.  Winners will be determined by the number of Likes clicked on each picture.  He would like the contest to be open to anyone in the world age 13 and up.

Draft an email to send to the VP of Marketing to discuss what changes, if any, he would need to make to his contest prior to running it, or highlight any issues/concerns you may have.

Question Three

You receive the following email from your VP of Human Resources:

Hi new General Counsel (sorry, I should know your name but I’m really busy)!

I’ve got a bit of a situation I’m hoping you can advise me on.  We hired Pat as our head of Online Community about a year ago.  I conducted the interview of Pat myself and I was really excited to do so because I had checked out all of Pat’s social media accounts prior to the office visit.  I was especially interested because it turns out Pat and I go to the same church and I didn’t even know that before!  

Anyway, I wanted to make sure Pat was a thorough professional in all their social media interactions so during the interview I had Pat log into all the major platforms and I browsed through the accounts, just to make sure there wasn’t anything tasteless that might go viral and embarrass us.  It was all good so Pat came on board and did a great job for many months.

But in the last few months, Pat has gotten weird.  Mostly on personal posts, but if you read those then you can see how it spills over to our corporate accounts.  Our users have started to notice too and Pat got into a nasty debate last week over whether a picture of Canadian Bacon was eligible for the site.

We may need to let Pat go soon.  Anything I need to be concerned about?

Draft a response to the VP of Human Resources.

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