Sardar Law Firm

It’s all Fun & Games till Someone Calls a Lawyer

In Entrepreneurs and Social Media, Social Media, Technology Issues and the Law on June 2010 at 8:29 pm

In the world of high school, burn books or “slam” books exist in a vacuum.  Teenagers gossip about each other in a vicious manner, and then the book is left behind.  Nowadays, in the social media world of permanency, burn books have taken on a viral quality – and have jumped from petty high school slams to workplace gossip and conduct. And in the fun, consequence-free world of social media, everything is fun and games… up until someone files a lawsuit or lodges a complaint against you.  Essentially, until someone brings in a social media lawyer to figure out what just happened.

(1) Social Media Complaint – It is Never Really Anonymous

Emory University dealt with this issue in 2008, and in April became a popular social media space for online gossip.  More often than not, posting an anonymous comment in an online burn book is not actually anonymous.  There are several ways to ascertain who posted the comment:  (1) if it was done through a work-owned server, it can be tracked; (2) if it was done through your phone, it can be easily tracked and it lessens the possible deniability option; and (3) if the social media or forum site wants to cooperate with a “the man,” they can easily turn over your identity.  In essence, it is never really anonymous.

(2) Workplace Issues from Social Media Gossip – Getting Fired

If someone finds out you posted gossip (true or untrue) about them on a social media website, they can complain and potentially lead to getting YOU fired.   A social media lawyer would tell you: workplace gossip should stay within the workplace (we realize it is impossible to eradicate it completely). Posting gossip about your co-worker can create a “hostile” work environment, and people have won lawsuits on less.  So if you would not make a poster of your comment and hang it in a conference room at work, then you probably should not be posting it online.

(3) Social Media Gossip – Getting Someone Else Fired

If someone is fired from their job based on gossip you posted on a social media or forum website, they may have a claim against you.  For example, if you incorrectly publish on a social networking site or any other online space that your co-worker is sleeping with his boss, causing said co-worker to lose his job – he may have a claim against you.  And those few hours of laughs you had at his expense with your friends while posting gossip online – those few hours are now the bane of your existence when his lawyer contacts you with a lawsuit.

Take a lesson from Mean Girls (the movie), gossip is never a good idea:  especially once you put it in writing.

by:  Benish Shah, Esq. & Sheheryar Sardar, Esq., Sardar Law Firm LLC

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