Archive for November, 2010

Digital Assets Now Part of Estate Planning

November 30, 2010

A couple days ago, I posted about the new Oklahoma law that look to give executors control of deceased online profiles. Now comes this article from Suzana Popovic-Montag who is the managing partner of Hull & Hull LLP in Toronto, a Canadian estate planning attorney discussing how she counsels her clients on planning for how to handle one’s digital assets, email addresses, online profiles, iTunes accounts on the like upon death.

She also brings up the issue of social networking profile ownership. Even if a client wants their executor to manage their digital assets upon death, there is no guarantee that the ISP or the social networking website will comply.

Facebook Makes Downloading Profile Easy

November 29, 2010

Say you are suing your insurer in a car crash and their lawyer sends you a discovery request compelling you to provide them with all the information on your Facebook profile.  Until very recently, you could cherry pick what you send and plead ignorance as to how to scrape your profile for pertinent information.

No more.

Facebook has now made it easy to download not just basics but comments, status updates, RSVPs to events, a collection of your photos including the time you uploaded them.  This will no doubt make the compelling attorneys happy but probably not you nor your attorney(s).

Don’t spill your guts on Facebook

More reason to use caution when posting information on Facebook and other social networking sites.  If you want to use Facebook for business or to make funny comments on other people’s posts, great but realize that the more information you provide to Facebook about the details of your life, the more your life becomes an open book to folks that aren’t your friends.

The Afterlife of Your Facebook Profile

November 28, 2010

“Memento mori” (remember you will die)  We need this reminder because we act as if we don’t.  Facebook is a perfect example as there is no simple way to handle a deceased Facebook profile. Oklahoma is addressing this issue with a new law

Will It Work?

However, according to legal experts, the law is based upon the dubious concept that users own their profiles when its depends upon the user agreements which often state that the social networking website owns your profile.

Emergency Contact

Perhaps there is another way to approach this issue which is to require all websites to include provisions for handling user information in case of emergency.  We are already use to providing landlords, workplaces and other entities with emergency contact information – perhaps this is the proper paradigm for such issues.

Facebook Firings Around the World

November 27, 2010

Last week I posted about the NLRB’s decision to decide a case on whether an employer is violating an employee’s first amendment rights by terminating him for negative comments about his employer. According to this U.K. article, this isn’t just a U.S. only phenomenon. This is happening in the UK, New Zealand and Australia.

My favorite line from such a terminated worker is this comment about her co-worker that she wanted to, “smack the brown-nosing cow in the face”.

Intel: Carving out a Social Media Niche

November 25, 2010

This is an interesting article on how Intel is approaching social media and what its concerns are moving forward.  Here is a quote that makes me curious to know more:

The Social Media Center of Excellence is part of the marketing strategies and campaigns team. We report to Nancy Bhagat, VP of sales and marketing, and then ultimately to Deborah Conrad, our VP and chief marketing officer. Our role is to drive strategy, enablement and, to some extent, activation for social media at Intel. So we manage the guidelines and the governance, making sure that social media practitioners all around the company—both in the corporate marketing group and in the other business units—are up to speed on the latest guidelines. For example, they need to represent the fact that they are with Intel in their Twitter handles and their blogs. So we do a lot of training and education.

On the issue of having employees identify themselves on Twitter as being with Intel, I wonder if the company also mandates that the employees use an Intel domain email address in order to comply with electronic discovery rules?

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 25, 2010

And drive & fly safely.

KY Bar: Calls Out Social Media in Proposed Regs.

November 24, 2010

Here is the link to the article I posted in my group “Lawyers who Tweet” about the Kentucky Bar’s proposed regulation of social media.   And here is the text of the proposed rules.

Two thoughts:

  • How can the Kentucky Bar Association single out “social media” from other kinds of Internet activity?  The amendment blithely mentions that non-legal comments on social media websites such as Facebook” and MySpace won’t be subject to advertising regulations.  What about LinkedIn?  Is that also considered a social networking website where comments will be regulated?
  • Its seems to me that regulating “comments” goes to the heart of First Amendment protection.  Advertisements are static communications that reach a broad audience while comments are situational and may only reach on person or very few.  This regulation seems designed to “chill” speech by making attorneys wary of posting anything on a social networking site, afraid it might be construed as advertising.

Will Attorney Bios Ever Be Fun to Read?

November 22, 2010

Maybe.  Carolyn Elefant who writes the legal marketing blog for Nolo.com posts about how the attorney bio has come a long way baby. In the old days of Martindale Hubbell monopoly, the attorney bio could be a fine print affair that wasn’t read but scanned for length – long meant impressive.

But as Carolyn says, the days of print are over and now attorneys must compete in the more open and engaging world of the web and social media.  She cites the law firm of Edelson McGuire, a Chicago plaintiffs firm has coming up with a more engaging bio format.  Their bios include personal information about favorite websites, music and pre-court rituals.  The bios also include the traditional credentials and recent cases approach so its a good mix.  The layout is also pleasing – making it easy on the eye to scan.

Will this format ever become the norm for corporate law firms?

Probably – the age of the i-Pad is upon us and everyone from GCs to grandmothers are looking for easier information consuming experiences.

NLRB to Rule on Employee Social Media Rights

November 21, 2010

Earlier this month I posted about the NLRB advocating on behalf of an employee who chose to rant about his employer on Facebook.  It looks like an NLRB administrative judge will make a ruling as to whether the company has the right under its social networking policies to restrict an employees right to talk about the workplace online.

This article points out the central issue in the case as it applies to social networking policies.  Obviously, employees have the right to rant amongst themselves in person about their employer.  But does an employee have the right to rant on Facebook about their employer where its possible for all the world to see?  Does the First Amendment protect workers in a such a case?  And even if it does protect their rights, is an employee undermining their own best interests by doing so?

Stay tuned – the NLRB judge will be hearing the case on January 25, 2011.

Social networking – E-discovery nightmare?

November 20, 2010

More than 60% of IT professionals concerned about how their companies will cope with e-discovery requests in the coming years.   This article goes on to warn that corporations are required to keep all employee communications in case of litigation.

What about private email accounts for Twitter etc?

One area of particular challenge is setting up email accounts for specific social networking accounts.  Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook etc. require you provide an email address as part of registering as a user.  Employees may not want to deal with the emails coming in from those account in their work email.  Instead they may set up Gmail, or Yahoo accounts to handle incoming emails.  If this correspondence is not coming through the workplace servers, it maybe very difficult for organizations to comply with discovery requests.


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