Archive for May, 2011

What Now After LinkedIn IPO?

May 30, 2011

Is LinkedIn sexy now?  While there is no question that LinkedIn had been popular, it has never been the media darling that Twitter and Facebook have become.  However, with a very successful IPO under its belt, it might never need to be sexy just the glue that holds together the professional world. Because it focuses on all things professional, it has a much narrower range than the other two social media giants.  However, that work to its benefit as its grabbing critical information about how people interact as professionals.  That can be monetized without a doubt.

What About Lawyers?

As I’ve mentioned before, I’d like to see LinkedIn become more sensitive to needs of particular professionals and how they represent themselves.  Now that they have serious cash, its time for them to connect with the ABA and make sure that they conform to the model rules of professional responsibility in how they structure their profiles.  Three quick fixes would go a long way:

  • Allow attorneys to edit “specialties” and turn it into “Focus Areas” or the like
  • Allow contacts to be shared at the contact level rather than globally
  • Allow attorneys to easily insert footnotes for disclaimers on recommendations, answers to questions and even the profiles generally.

CA Social Media Privacy Bill Fails

May 28, 2011

This article explains that SB 242 deadlocked in the California Senate with a vote of 16-16.  There was a big push by Google, Facebook and others in the emerging social networking industry lobby who were successful in killing the bill that would have made it harder for these companies to collect and retain all the personally identifiable information they use to build their successful ad businesses.

There was no mention in the article about the Federal efforts and the fact that they could preempt this California level effort from the get go.

More NLRB Facebook News

May 27, 2011

Yesterday I posted about how Jessica Braverman is doubtful about the NLRB’s aggressive stance regarding private employers ability to fire workers for what they say about the workplace on Facebook.  She is particularly doubtful about how this will play out in California.  So far, she has been right as the latest complaint the NLRB filed concerned a BMW dealership and their sales team in Chicago.

But Are Private Employers Treated Differently than those with Union Workers?

It doesn’t look like it as these employees were commissioned sales professionals.  The more interesting question to me is where the line is in terms of disparaging your employer versus discussing working terms and conditions.  For example, if employees go to Facebook and complain about personal aspects of their boss – that he is fat or ugly or never laughs, that probably won’t qualify as discussing working terms and conditions but the worker add that he never smiles or says anything nice, that could be creating a hostile working environment.  This seems like a slippery slope and what if the intent of the workers is clearly to complain but they include issues that impact the workplace – is that enough to trigger Section 7?

NLRB Facebook Complaints – Another Take

May 26, 2011

I noted the latest complaint filed by the NLRB against employers here. At yesterday’s program on social media policies for companies Jessica Braverman, an employment law attorney who specializes in these cases, suggested that these are cases that aren’t likely to impact non-union employers in California. First, because she thinks these cases mostly impact employers having to negotiate collective bargaining agreements and also because the NLRB in California is unlikely to be so aggressive in this area.

Something to watch for!

Congress, FTC Look at Online Privacy

May 24, 2011

A new buzz phrase is emerging in this area called, “privacy by design” which is thoroughly considered by the Information Law Group in this post.  Here are some highlights:

  • Know how and when your business interacts with consumers and the implications on the privacy of the information they provide
  • Consider the demographic of your company’s products or market – certain segments will be more concerned about privacy protections than others
  • Stay abreast of what the FTC and Congress is doing in this area as it’s pretty fluid right now
  • Keep in mind data collection, security and retention when drafting the appropriate policies

Drs. & Lawyers Need to Use Facebook Cautiously

May 23, 2011

This article outlines the rules doctors and other healthcare professionals have using social media which are similar to those for lawyers but are event stricter.  Take for example the doctor who posted information about a trauma patient and ended up getting fired from the hospital and disciplined by her medical board.  She hadn’t even posted the patient’s name but enough information to make the disclosure a violation under HIPAA, the (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).

Other issues a doctor faces is displaying themselves drinking wine in a Facebook photo or engaging other behavior that might make a patient think twice about having this person operate on them.  I don’t think lawyers have to worry about that – clients aren’t as worried about the precision of their lawyers language in the courtroom as potential patients are with a surgeon with the scalpel!

Why Social Media User Agreements Matter

May 21, 2011

This article published in the Montreal Gazette discusses users’ enforceable rights on Twitter, Facebook etc.  While these sites require users to broadly agree to their terms of use, they claim to allow users to “own” their own content.  However, in this case the Agence France-Presse published a photographer’s Haitian Earthquake photos without permission from the photographer.  The media company claims the photographer had uploaded them to Twitter so he had consented to having his photos free to re-publish to anyone.

But is that a reasonable expectation for a Twitter user to have about their content?  Are people simply signing away valuable rights without understanding what they are doing?

NLRB Takes on Employer re: Facebook Firing

May 20, 2011

True to their word, the NLRB is taking on another employer over the termination of five employees because they went to Facebook to discuss work load and staffing issues.  The employer, Hispanics United, is a nonprofit serving low income individuals and families.  An administrative judge is set to hear the case on June 22, 2011.

If you are interested in learning more about the issues a company faces handling social media issues, there will be a program on May 25, 2011 at noon where Jessica Braverman and myself will be discussing these issues at the Alameda County Bar Association Headquarters in Oakland.

Link to NLRB press release

When Is Your Office Really Your Home?

May 19, 2011

An interesting post from My Law License, wondering about attorneys working out of their homes but  renting an office where they have their phone answered and mail received.  If they have a photo of their “office building” on their website, are they misleading clients and potential clients?  In California, there is the B&P code 6158 which states that electronic advertising as a whole can’t be misleading.  But really is there a significant different between placing your office address on the website and the building in terms of misleading potential clients?  I don’t think so but it’s an interesting question.

Lawyers & Facebook – Oil & Water?

May 16, 2011

Kevin O’Keefe posts about how attorneys shouldn’t dismiss Facebook as a networking tool.  I like how he fits Facebook into the an attorney’s social marketing toolkit as something different from LinkedIn.  He sees Facebook as a way to nuture more well-rounded relationships online.  For LinkedIn, its all business but for those people you think its worth getting to know on a more personal basis, Facebook can be a good way to go.

Be Thy Self Online

I don’t enjoy Facebook.  I have a profile and I stream blog posts into it but I barely look at my “Wall” and even more rarely make a personal contribution or respond to someone else’s update.  This may change.  I may find a way to incorporate Facebook into my life that feels right but until then I’m not going bring a false persona to the site just for business development purposes.