Approximately 30 early morning social media lovers piled into Mars Café in the Drake neighborhood yesterday morning to listen to attorney Megan Erickson, who practices law and writes on social media topics in her blog (Erickson’s Social Networking Law), as she gave her presentation entitled, “The Legal Side of Social Media.”
During the free event Megan focused on several legal issues relating to social media: Employment Law, defamation, intellectual property, employee privacy issues, the Communications Decency Act, the Federal Trade Commission, securities regulations and much more.
The event was organized by the Social Media Club of Des Moines, which has just over 400 members in the greater Des Moines community, and was sponsored by Mars Café and Dickinson Mackaman Tyler & Hagen PC.
As Megan pointed out, while the problems that are associated with blurred lines between social lives and work lives are not new, the recent growth of Web 2.0 may lead to a more frequent blurring of the lines between personal and professional.
As the culture of social media networking and social media marketing grows and evolves, there are bound to be different social, legal and work-related issues which arise. Here are a few questions that came to mind as Megan spoke about a few of these issues:
- Can an employee’s First Amendment right become infringed upon in regards to social media?
- Could knowing too much information about a co-worker potentially hurt or complicate a work relationship?
- What shows up on personal social media networks which represent you?
- Are you positively conveying your personal brand across all online social networks?
- Since social media profiles are filled with protected personal information, is it easier for employees to sue workplaces due to discrimination?
- Do employers have a duty to check out the online social networks of a potential employee?
- How can an employee’s use of social media affect their employer? Could it damage the brand and reputation of the company in the minds of current and potential customers?
- Do companies decision makers do the necessary research on social media networks before they make decisions about how to regulate those tools?
In closing her presentation Megan gave a few words of advice, “Be proactive and be aware that these things exist.” In my opinion, it’s better to be informed than to be caught in a law suit because of something that could have been avoided by simply understanding how law relates to social media.