Sardar Law Firm

Archive for August, 2011|Monthly archive page

Social media has schools on defense

In Entrepreneurs and Social Media, Social Media, Technology Issues and the Law on August 2011 at 5:31 pm

Our very own social media maestro, Sheheryar T. Sardar, got interviewed by Business Insurance about schools going on the defensive with social media.

Take a read at this excerpt: Social media has schools on defense 

The circumstances under which a school might find itself in court over an item of social media content are fairly easy to predict, experts said.

If a university athletic department actively monitors its students’ social media accounts and fails to recognize or act on information that could have predicted or prevented a loss—property damage, personal injury or death—the school could be sued for negligence or dereliction of duty, said Stephen Marcellino, a partner in the New York and White Plains, N.Y., offices of Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker L.L.P.

“Once you take on that kind of policing activity, it creates an obligation,” Mr. Marcellino said. “One could easily posit a liability theory in terms of discharge of duty. It’s almost a case of “Be careful what you wish for.’”

On the other hand, acting too swiftly on information obtained through social media monitoring also might not be advisable. Even if every post by every student under surveillance were authenticated, experts worry whether school and athletic administrators can correctly interpret the content of each post.

Jennifer Whittington, executive director of the Bloomington, Ind.-based University Risk Management & Insurance Assn., said a student suspended or kicked off a team for a post that he or she did not author or that was taken out of context could file a claim against the school for reputational damage or lost future financial benefits linked to their athletic talents.

A university also could face litigation based on how it determines which students to monitor. Sheheryar Sardar, a partner at the New York-based Sardar Law Firm L.L.C. and author on using social media, said a school that monitors only some of its students—such as athletes—and not the rest could be accused of discrimination or violating students’ 14th Amendment right of equal protection.

“It’s just not advisable for any school to regularly monitor a student’s social media use,” said Alyssa Keehan, senior risk counsel for the Chevy Chase, Md.-based United Educators Insurance, a Reciprocal Risk Retention Group. “Social media, really, is just another medium for behavior; and just as you can’t feasibly monitor every student’s behavior 24/7, it’s unreasonable to try to do that with social media postings.”

Read Full Story HERE.