Sardar Law Firm

Archive for September, 2010|Monthly archive page

Damage Control: when your company is attacked online

In Social Media, Technology Issues and the Law on September 2010 at 9:17 am

While we encourage companies to encourage social media and have sound policies and educational seminars on the use of social media in the corporate world, it is critical for companies to understand that there are potential risks associated with social media. Once companies understand that a risk exists, the next step is to have a policy for damage control on the web.

What to do if someone writes damaging comments about your business or you on a social media site:

(1) DO NOT RETALIATE.  Do not email, call, post a response or take any other action without thinking the matter through.  The problem with social media is that you can get your feelings out instantaneously – leading to a host of regrets.

(2) DELETE THE COMMENT.  If the comment is on your own blog or on a website that you control, you have the right to delete the comment.  This is not to say that you should ignore the individual’s complaints or not reach out to them privately, but understand that you have the option to delete negative or damaging comments.

(3) REMEMBER THAT YOU HAVE AN AUDIENCE.  Whatever you choose to right (or not write) is something that your audience will be watching.

(4) DEVELOP A DAMAGE CONTROL POLICY.  Consult with a lawyer, a social media strategist, and the branding team to analyze what steps should be taken if damaging comments are made, and be prepared to have an answer for the “why?”

A social media heavy consumer economy means that communities want to be answered to, but that does not mean that a company cannot take control of that message.

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

For more information on social media law, contact: Sardar Law Firm at sardar@sardarlawfirm.com.

Follow Sardar Law Firm on Twitter: http://twitter.com/sardarlawfirm

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Rejecting an Ad: Facebook Says No

In Social Media, Technology Issues and the Law on September 2010 at 9:04 am

Facebook has blocked ads from the Just Say Now campaign backing California’s Prop. 19, which aims to legalize marijuana and goes to the state’s electorate on the November ballot.

Some Prop 19 campaigners are claiming that this decision by Facbeook infringes on the group’s 1st Amendment rights.  However, it is common corporate practice to regulate the type of content they accept for advertising campaigns.  Facebook defended its policies saying that the group’s use of the marijuana leaf contravened its policy of non-promotion of “smoking products.”

The interesting thing here is not that Facebook said no to the ad, it is that social media communities are powerful enough to mandate that a company explain the reasoning behind a business decision.  The Just Say Now group has begun a petition against Facebook’s decision stating that, “By censoring marijuana leaves, Facebook is banning political speech. This is unfair, and unacceptable.”

But is unfair and unacceptable the same thing as illegal and violative of the 1st Amendment?  Is an ad for Marijuana legalization considered political speech?  And if so, does this take away a corporation’s right to decide what advertisements that they accept for display on their website or other corporate materials?

What it comes down to is this:  this type of advertising decision is not a 1st Amendment issue, its a preference issue couched in business – it’s not politics.

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

For more information on social media law, contact: Sardar Law Firm atsardar@sardarlawfirm.com.

Follow Sardar Law Firm on Twitter:http://twitter.com/sardarlawfirm

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In An Effort To Prevent Office Gossip: Law Firms Ban Website

In Social Media, Technology Issues and the Law on September 2010 at 9:52 am

Law firms Mallesons Stephen Jaques and Clayton Utz  banned employees from accessing a gossip site, Firm Spy, operated anonymously, stating that the site is spreading falsehoods and invading the privacy of staff. Both law firms said they had banned the Firm Spy after posts were published spreading private information about employees and staff at other legal firms.  In effect, Firm Spy was acting like an online Burn Book for law firms.

The site design is that of a gossip-blog for the corporate world.  There is information on layoffs, pay rises/cuts, and noteworthy changes within some of the biggest organizations in the country.

The these firms are not U.S. based, they do bring up an interesting point:  does brand management and reputation take precedence over free use of media?  Can (and should) companies control information that employees can read?

There are of course certain websites and offensive materials that are not appropriate for the work environment, and industry standards have dubbed them so.  But should “gossip” sites be banned because they mention a corporation or a law firm – that is the question here.

With the rise of social and digital media, the issue seems to be one of influence rather than control.  Isn’t that what social media is about?

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

For more information on social media law, contact: Sardar Law Firm at sardar@sardarlawfirm.com.

Follow Sardar Law Firm on Twitter:http://twitter.com/sardarlawfirm

Follow Social Media Legalat:http://twitter.com/socialmedia_law

Teachers File Suit for Facebook Rights

In Social Media on September 2010 at 9:00 am

Santa Rosa County teachers and support personnel is planning to file an unfair labor practices lawsuit against the School District over what it claims is an overly restrictive new policy on educators’ use of e-mail and social media websites, such as Facebook. Evidently, the new policy at issue dictates how employees should use social media and digital communications at work and when working in their official capacities from home.

The policy covers e-mail, Facebook and other social networking websites, Twitter, blogs, personal sites, text messages, instant messages, chat rooms, list serves, podcasts, cell phones and Blackberrys. Basically, all tools of communication on a digital platform.

The issue is becoming one of personal speech and public record speech.  In the world of social media and the evolving law around social media, the line between personal speech and public record is blurred, with no absolute lines being evident.  It will be an interesting outcome to watch for.

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

For more information on social media law, contact: Sardar Law Firm at sardar@sardarlawfirm.com.

Follow Sardar Law Firm on Twitter:http://twitter.com/sardarlawfirm

Follow Social Media Legalat:http://twitter.com/socialmedia_law

3 Mistakes in Corporate Social Media

In Entrepreneurs and Social Media, Social Media, Technology Issues and the Law on September 2010 at 8:43 am

Great piece by Global Executive Board.

(1) Doing it Alone.

Social media is not about developing the hottest technology through your IT department; it’s about using what you know is out there in a strategic manner.  Keeping the process in-house can be detrimental on the strategic end.  Bring in social media strategists to help you see your options, the bigger picture, the risk possibilities – and pull it together through a sound social media strategy.

(2) Seeing it as an “Option”

Social media is no longer an option.  It is a necessity for all businesses, whether consumer driven or B2B. Executives need to understand the social media process, and give the okay to develop creative and effective social media strategies.

(3) Failing to Understand that Social Media is About STRATEGY.

Blindly kicking and grabbing through social media is not effective.  It is critical to sit down and develop goals, needs, and the strategy behind achieving those goals and fulfilling the needs.  Social media is a corporate strategy.