Important Legal Tips
Legal Tip #1
The days of thinking an attorney can clean-up a social media mistake after-the-fact is over. Once you send a harmful message, it's in front of millions, and it becomes a permanent digital footprint. That's why courts demand that the sender (employees) receive training before you the hit the SEND key.
Legal Tip #2
To close hidden social media policy and training gaps, you must add the broadcast and publishing law perspective to your policy drafting and employee training. Although there are serious employment law consequences to social media, it's ultimately about broadcasting and publishing to a mass audience.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why can't we use our attorney to train employees?
The U.S. Supreme Court and federal courts classify social media as a specialized area of the law. Your instructor must be a social media law expert. Having your busy in-house attorney attend a few conferences and do some Internet research doesn't qualify him or her as a "subject matter expert" in social media law.
Shouldn't we just train our communication staff?
The answer is no. You have a new pool of employee broadcasters using personal devices for work without much oversight. An employee on social media can permanently destroy a person's reputation worldwide. Courts rule that it's negligence to avoid giving employees expert social media liability training.
Why train our employees, we pay for insurance?
This costly myth has caused business owners not only their business, but their personal assets. Most courts and other authoritative bodies adjudicate social media harmful content as intentional or malicious conduct, but definitely not accidental. For instance, you sent a humiliating video on Facebook about a particular person and it went viral. How is that an accident? Insurance excludes your claim because they don't cover intentional or malicious conduct. You pay out of pocket. Even if the claim was covered, your premium would skyrocket and become affordable.
Do model social media policies hold up in court?
The biggest mistake is placing blind trust on a social media policy written by a reputable policy service or other organization. Why? Despite coming from a reputable organization, most social media policies are not written by attorneys who specialize in social media and digital media law. This distinction has cost organizations' millions of dollars. Courts reject 99% of model social media policies due to vague language and omission of key issues. Additionally, if your fire or discipline someone based on this defective policy, decision-makers are held personally liable.
Ignorance Of The Law Isn't A Defense In A Social Media Case
"Your honor the business owner felt terrible his employee sent that hurtful meme to a customer and had no idea it would go viral. Also, the business owner didn't realize that the U.S. Supreme Court and federal courts consider social media a "high liability" legal issue that requires specialized training for employees.. He didn't t hire a social media attorney specialist because his regular attorney offered to give a free short lecture to the employees for free. Also your honor, my client felt it would be a waste of money to hire a 30 year social media law attorney when he already has an attorney that can train his employees."
"Counsel as you know ignorance of the law isn't a defense. Even most non-lawyers know that. Also, your client needs to understand that being an attorney doesn't automatically mean you're an expert in all areas of the law. Like doctors, today's attorneys are specialists. It's just not reasonable to think an attorney can attend a few seminars and then claim her o she has the same expertise as a 30 year nationally recognized social media attorney specialist. Finally, it defies logic that for $47 or less, you didn't register your employees for the online class. Based on the facts of this case, the motion to dismiss is denied."
You Can't Bury Your Head In The Sand On The Urgency Of Expert Social Media Liability Training For All Employees...
When an employee's post or tweet can go viral and destroy a person's reputation worldwide, courts accept no excuses in delaying social media liability training for your employees.
"Mark, your courses always give me new information on the
hidden liabilities other instructors overlook."
- Mike Weaver, 911 Director, Lancaster County, PA
Based On 30 Years Of Practicing Digital Media Law, Here Are Common Personality Traits That Get A Business Owner Sued...
Most Likely To Face Costly
Social Media Lawsuits
- Closed-minded to new laws
- Attends a seminar, now is an expert
- Know It All on social media legal issues
- Thinks any attorney can train staff
- Waits for a lawsuit before training staff
- Doesn't train staff, relies on insurance
- Only gives general warnings to staff
Less Likely To Face Costly
Social Media Lawsuits
- Open-minded to new laws
- Knows seminars have limited value
- Doesn't pretend to be a legal expert
- Hires a social media attorney
- Doesn't wait for a lawsuit to train
- Trains staff and has insurance
- Trains staff doesn't just warn staff