Social Media Deplatforming

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At the time this article is being written, the Florida state legislature is considering a bill that would fine large social media platforms up to $250,000 per day for deplatforming political candidates.

Why is this proposed law being considered?

In the past couple of years, there’s been trend of suspending or terminating the social media accounts of politicians whose views are different from those of the platform owners and their employees. Perhaps the most notorious was the case of former U.S. President Donald Trump involving his Twitter and Facebook accounts.

To be clear, there’s no First Amendment speech protection that applies to social media platforms. Those free speech rights are targeted against government censorship, not social media companies.

And it remains to be seen whether social media platforms will be able to successfully sue to strike down any federal or state government restrictions imposed on their ability to discipline political candidates.

If the Florida bill becomes law and is upheld by the courts, it sends a strong signal that one cannot censor social media to favor some political candidates at the expense of others.

It’s important to note that the proposed legislation is written is such a way that it targets only the very largest social media sites. However, that’s the camel’s nose under the tent on this issue. One can easily see it being applied in the future to small social media sites and even blogs that permit comments.

If you own a social media platform, the safest path right now is to: (1) have a set of rules for users; and (2) apply those rules uniformly to users. Don’t play favorites.

And if the rules protecting political candidates become too draconian, you may want to consider banning candidates from having accounts rather than spend a small fortune for regulatory compliance.

Facebook Privacy Policy Whiners Need To Get A Life

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facebook privacy policy site governanceA few years ago, Facebook decided to let users vote on how user privacy and other issues are handle at the social media site. Like so much that’s free on the Web, certain misguided users and tech pundits mistake this benevolence to be an irrevocable “right” that Facebook can never modify or rescind.

Because it is so easy to manipulate Facebook Site Governance votes, the social networking site has decide it is time for a change – reflecting the reality that user feedback is important but shouldn’t be the deciding factor.

In other words, Facebook is a social media website that has the right to change how it operates within the confines of the law. That includes changing Facebook’s privacy policy.

website privacy policy

If a user doesn’t like changes to Facebook’s privacy policy or other operational terms and conditions, that user can always delete their account and go elsewhere to find social networking opportunities.

To claim a nonexistent “right” to veto the way Facebook’s social media site (or Google+, Linkedin, etc.) is run is absurd. When in Facebook’s social networking ballpark, as a user, you play by the company’s rules…even when those rules change.

Why Have a Social Media Policy?

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social media policiesMany small business owners mistakenly believe that a social media policy is only for large companies with many employees. In fact, social media policies are very important for businesses of all sizes.

What is a social media policy?

A social media policy is your business’ way of telling employees and independent contractors in advance what you consider to be acceptable and unacceptable use of social networking sites like Facebook, Google+, Linkedin, Twitter, and others.

This legal document is important because it helps you protect your online reputation. You don’t want those working for you to identify their affiliation with your business at the same time they’re posting content on social networks that could hurt your business.

Let’s face it. It’s expensive and time-consuming to recover your reputation on the Internet after someone associated with your business has done something offensive that gets tied to your company simply because they do work for you. You will pay a bundle to reputation management businesss to clean up an online mess after the fact.

Can a social media policy bulletproof your business from improper use of Facebook and other social networking websites? No. However, your policy can significantly reduce your risk that an employee or freelancer doing work for your company will harm your reputation.

What should you put in your social media policy? That’s something for you to discuss with your Internet attorney.

Fake Facebook Profile: Man Uses Social Media in Plot to Kill Babysitter

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A 30-year-old man raped his kids’ 16-year-old babysitter. Before going on trial for the crime, he set up a fake Facebook profile and used it to lure his victim into a meeting. He kidnapped her, shot her twice, and stepped on her neck until she died.

This serves as a brutal reminder that there are sick and twisted individuals who use social media. Some are dangerously mentally ill. Others are predators, psychopaths or sociopaths who troll for their victims online.

When social networking, it’s important to keep your home address and other key personal facts private. Don’t post locations that make it easy for someone stalking you to find out where you live or work. And if you have minor children, even teenagers, monitor their social media use and warn them against the dangers of meeting anyone in person who they met online.

Who Owns Your Social Media Content?

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When you’re posting original content (e.g. your photos) on social media sites, who owns and has the right to use the content? You may own the copyright but have you given the social media site a license to use your content however they want to?
This is not an academic issue but has serious real world applications for your intellectual property rights and your reputation.
What’s important to note is that each of the big social media sites has different policies on how they treat the content you post…and what rights you’re giving to them in exchange for the ability to post the content in the first place.
For example, some Facebook users photos were being used in advertisements on Facebook for products. In some instances, the users clearly did not want to be associated with the products and services being promoted on Facebook using their images.
What about Google Plus? Have you read the terms governing the use of the content that you post? Are you giving Google the license to use your content however Google wants? What about Google’s advertisers and others with which Google has a business relationship? Did you give them a license to use your content too simply by posting it on Google+?
It’s important to note that sometimes even the social media site’s policy governing content use won’t necessarily determine your rights. For example, Twitter has taken the position that users own their own content (not Twitter). However, there’s a lawsuit in New York where a court may very well decide that Twitter owns the content…even if you delete your account.
Finally, if your intellectual property is important to you, and you insist on sharing it via social networking, understand that a social media’s terms governing content use may change frequently. Primary reasons for such changes include government action forcing the modifications and settlement of class action lawsuits by social media users unhappy with how their content has been used/misused.
If what you’re posting on a social media site has tremendous value to you, always read the current terms governing content use and intellectual property rights before putting the content online.