March 2017 Notes: Social Media Lockout?

On “Giving Freely” in Social Media. Kevin O’Keefe recently wrote a great blog post on the importance of lawyers being willing to “give” – without expectation of return – when using social media. You should read the whole thing, but the central point is key to prosperity in all relationships, whether on social media or in the real world (or in the increasingly prevalent intersection of the two): it all starts with sharing and real engagement. This can be hard for lawyers; we are skeptical, cautious, risk-adverse. We can have a hard time wrapping our heads around the concept of opening our arms and freely giving advice, information, encouragement, or guidance. But Kevin’s post is echoed in another recent take, from the brilliant Farnham Street blog, on the differences between “rich” and “poor” mindsets: while the latter always seeks the easy way out, the former knows that all success comes from enriching the lives of other people and going the extra mile. Getting hyped up on traffic numbers or constantly selling yourself is just a distraction from the work that drives real value – giving of yourself.

Is Using Facebook a Fundamental Right? In a sign of the pervasiveness of social media, the Supreme Court is poised to decide whether the state (in this case, under the ambit of restrictions on sex offenders) may prohibit access to social media platforms. The case raises broad questions about access to information and news, particularly in an environment where so much news dissemination comes via social media. With both the press and political leaders regularly taking to Twitter to spread news and express opinions, is it proper for government to limit access to such media? Look for the court’s answer later this summer. However, even if the Supreme Court finds such a right, don’t expect it to extend to the courtroom. Judges have wide discretion to control their spaces. As one commenter noted, constitutional rights are “at their nadir” in the courtroom. Or, as one witness recently learned the hard way, if a judge doesn’t want you to broadcast your buddy’s murder trial using Facebook Live, he probably means it.

Settlement in “Fake Defendant” Libel Lawsuit. I’ve written here a number of times before about what seems to be a growing practice of fraud on the courts designed to remove negative online reviews: file a defamation lawsuit, show up with the “defendant,” stipulated judgment in hand, and then take the judgment to Google and have the offending review “de-indexed” so it will never show in search results. Paul Alan Levy of Public Citizen has been leading the charge against this practice, and he’s obtained first blood: a settlement, along with the referral of the case to law enforcement. For lawyers who outsource their marketing, this case is yet another call for expanded due diligence, as the defendant here was a “reputation management” company. There are no doubt other such companies also doing this. And while it would be bad for any business to be found to have used a third party to try and defraud the courts, just imagine how career-impacting it would be for an attorney to be caught up in such matters.

Briefly:

Who says blogging doesn’t pay? Prolific tax law blogger named dean of Pepperdine law school.

Groupon’s legal team has created a scorecard – with client reviews – for outside law firms.

The Nevada Supreme Court will have to decide a fight between the State Bar and AG’s office over attorney licensing.

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