Archive for May, 2010

New privacy lawsuit against Facebook

May 23, 2010

This lawsuit filed in federal district court in Rhode Island is important because it addresses the issue of third-party Apps grabbing personal information off Facebook and serving it up on third-party websites. While most of the privacy concerns for Facebook members has been directed at their ability to set their privacy settings, the 3rd party applications have free rein under the hood of Personally Identifiable Information (PII).

Read the complaint here.

Facebook backtracking on privacy

May 22, 2010

Facebook has announced that it will be offering its users “simpler” privacy choices.  But the real issue isn’t that the controls need to be simpler, it’s that the settings need to provide the privacy as advertised.  If a user wants to globally hide certain connections to people or groups, Facebook must stop allowing 3rd party Apps to grab this user information anyway.

Attorneys do the stupidest things

May 22, 2010

I missed this one when it happened but it’s too good not share.  Have you heard the one about the lawyer who served on a jury and blogged about the case? To top it off, he  said the judge was, “a stern, attentive woman with thin red hair and long, spidery fingers that as a grandkid you probably wouldn’t want snapped at you”

Also, the lawyer didn’t disclose he was a lawyer to the court and claimed not to have heard that wasn’t suppose to blog about the case. 45 days legal license suspension.

Online or not: don’t misrepresent yourself

May 21, 2010

Yesterday I presented to Alameda County attorneys about the ethics of social networking and one of my basic points stated so frequently in  the codes that govern attorney advertising rules for the state of California is don’t provide false, misleading or deceptive information about yourself. 

This seems so obvious and then I hear stories like this one and I realize that it’s not.

Friday Freebies: Improve your runtime

May 21, 2010

“Process Lasso is a unique new technology that will improve your PC’s responsiveness and stability. Windows, by design, allows programs to monopolize your CPU without sufficient restraint – leading to hangs and micro-lags.

Process Lasso’s ProBalance (Process Balance) technology intelligently adjusts the priorities of running programs so that badly behaved processes won’t negatively impact the responsiveness of your PC.”

Link here:

Confidentiality issues with “connecting”

May 20, 2010

One of the issues I’m raising in my social networking ethics presentation today is how to determine whether to publicly acknowledge your relationships with clients on LinkedIn and elsewhere.  As far as I can tell, there aren’t ethics rules on this question but if you were a divorce attorney, you wouldn’t mention the name of a client at a cocktail party, so you shouldn’t connect with them on LinkedIn.  Here some ways to  think about this issue:

  • It takes two to tango: you can’t link with someone without their consent.  But should you make sure that your client knows the implication of linking with you?
  • What if you promise your client to hide his/her identity so that no one will know of the connection?  Sounds good but what if there is a computer glitch that suddenly makes all your connections public?  Do you trust LinkedIn, Facebook etc. to never be exposed to privacy breaches?
  • On LinkedIn you can’t hide some contacts identity while exposing others.  There is a global setting that allows you to either hide ALL or you contacts or share ALL your contacts.  (If there is an over-ride for this setting I want to hear about it.)
  • My recommendation: if you believe the public exposure of your clients’ identities constitutes a confidentiality breach, then you should simply tell your clients you won’t connect with them on any social networking website.  I wouldn’t trust the security settings to keep that information private and what is the value of hidden connections?  Just don’t do it.

Is Facebook in trouble?

May 19, 2010

I have posted in recent months about all the “improvements” Facebook has made to its privacy policies and how these changes have drawn the ire of consumers, consumer groups and the FTC.  But there’s even more evidence that these changes aren’t helping Facebook’s popularity in the business community.

Now they have created Facebook, “Community pages” which aggregates content from Wikipedia and from Facebook walls.  This post from Jeremiah Owyang of Web Strategy makes the point that companies posted content for marketing purposes on their walls now see them mixed and matched on these “Community pages” further diluting their brands.  And the Facebook branding is pretty overwhelming to begin with.

This is just the latest in the ongoing backlash which includes college kids working on a social networking app that takes out the Facebook middle man and Facebook boycotts.  This is getting interesting…

Starting a blog? content, content, content

May 18, 2010

Here is a useful article on how to approach starting a business blog. Most of it is completely applicable to starting a law-focused blog.  My only complaint is that it skimps on what is the most vexing issue for bloggers and busy lawyers are particularly prone to this problem: not posting frequently.  So here are my ten tips for not letting the well run dry:

  1. Inventory existing materials; articles, papers, emails to clients and anything you can think of that reveals your writing about your work.
  2. Cut and paste this into one big document.
  3. Go through it and mark out separate and distinct ideas – I’ll bet you can come up with 20 at least
  4. Create editorial calendar for your blog.
  5. Set out two days a week that you will commit to blogging
  6. Now you have 10 weeks of pre-made blog posts but don’t stop there…
  7. Create iGoogle page specific to your blog
  8. Review news feeds relevant to your practice and stream them into your iGoogle page
  9. Use this page to jog your brain for ideas: this new punitive damages law in Missouri – should I alert my audience of CA attorneys?
  10. Create a “tip of the week”  Make it fun but somewhat relevant – best lawyer joke of the week: weirdest court filing etc.

Asking your client about Facebook etc.

May 17, 2010

This article is a good overview of just how broad and deep social networking has spread its tentacles into the legal sphere.  Of particular interest to any attorneys interviewing clients for possible litigation is to find out what they are doing online and where.  Here are some key things to include in your client checklist:

  • What social networking profiles do they have?
  • What is available on their pages – documents, photos, videos etc?
  • Are they aware of their privacy settings?
  • Do they know that insurance companies, opposing counsel and private investigators maybe reviewing their profiles?
  • Do they adequately screen everyone who they allow to “friend,” “connect with” or ask to “follow” them?

Videos for lawyer websites

May 16, 2010

Across the web, people are using videos for their websites.  What about attorneys?  Here are some pros & cons.


  • Great if you have a consumer focused practice – for example, it you are an estate planning attorney, what about a short video on the questions you should ask any attorney about drafting a will or trust?
  • Lets potential clients see and hear you.  Good way for potential clients to get to know you
  • Makes your website immediately engaging: visitors just click on your video – no reading necessary
  • Multi-purposing: post your video to Youtube and add an additional way to build traffic to your website


  • Not so hot if you are appealing primarily to other lawyers or professionals who might see it as gimmicky
  • If video doesn’t offer value – just you talking about yourself or just selling yourself with a scrolling phone number at the bottom
  • If the video is poorly shot or you come across awkward, uncomfortable, tense or unattractive
  • If you force your web visitors to watch the video each time they come to your site.  They will definitely stop coming!