Beware of Textual Harassment Liability  “Imagine a supervisor making an inappropriate remark to one of his direct reports in an after-hours conversation.  If he made the comment verbally, and the employee then reported it to the supervisor’s employer, any resulting litigation would have involved the usual ‘he said, she said’ situation, in which lawyers would have challenged the employee’s credibility.   But what if the comment occurred in a text message?  Then, lawyers for the company are at a disadvantage, since a written record of the comment exists.   Harassment by text message — or ‘textual harassment’ — is becoming more prevalent.  Texas and 45 other states have laws expressly criminalizing electronic forms of harassment, including text messages.”

Tennessee Ruling Provides Clarity on Showing Needed to Uncover Identity of Anonymous Blogger in Defamation/Privacy Case

Digital Media Lawyer Blog:  “A Tennessee trial court adopted a version of the ‘heavy’ Dendrite standard for permitting discovery of the identity of the anonymous poster of an allegedly defamatory blog.  However, as interpreted by the trial court, this standard was not insuperable, and resulted in an order that the plaintiffs were entitled to discovery of the identity and personal information of the blogger.”

Teens’ MySpace Photos Spur Punishment & Lawsuit

Arizona Republic:  “Two sophomore girls have sued their school district after they were punished for posting sexually suggestive photos on MySpace during their summer vacation.   The American Civil Liberties Union, in a federal lawsuit filed last week on behalf of the girls, argues that Churubusco High School violated the girls’ free speech rights when it banned them from extracurricular activities for a joke that didn’t involve the school.  They say the district humiliated the girls by requiring them to apologize to an all-male coaches’ board and undergo counseling.”

Employer Social Networking Policies: Pre-Drafting Considerations, Part II

Social Networking and the Law:  Attorney Megan Erickson’s second article in a series of articles that employers should consider when drafting an employee policy dealing with social media.

I discussed some things an employer may want to think about before drafting social networking policies — including some things to keep in mind when starting with a sample policy. I’ll build upon that by offering a few considerations here for employers to ponder as they begin thinking about drafting, updating, or maintaining a social media policy.

See Megan’s first article on this subject.

Employer Social Networking Policies: Pre-Drafting Considerations & Dangers of Sample Policies

Social Networking and the Law:  “Employers often want to know more about permissible or effective social networking policies for their employees.  Of course, there’s no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ social media policy for employers, but I think readers might find it helpful if we took some time to address important considerations involved in drafting, updating, or maintaining a policy addressing employees’ online activities.  With that goal in mind, I’m going to begin a series of entries specifically tackling some of those issues.”

Tennessee Court Says Couple Entitled to Unmask Anonymous Blogger

Citizens Media Law Project:  “A Tennessee state court ruled earlier this month that plaintiffs Donald and Terry Keller Swartz are entitled to discover the identity of the anonymous blogger behind the Stop Swartz blog who published critical statements about them and encouraged readers to post information on their whereabouts and activities. In his decision, Judge Thomas W. Brothers adopted a legal standard highly protective of anonymous online speech, but found that the Swartzes had come forward with sufficient evidence in support of their claims of wrongdoing to outweigh the anonymous blogger’s right to anonymity.”

Internet Bullying on the Rise

Arizona Republic:  “It’s difficult to quantify the growth of online-bullying cases. Still, law-enforcement agencies worldwide have said they’re seeing an uptick in cyber-harassment cases involving social-networking sites, said Philip Rosenthal, a New York-based computer-crime expert with 20 years of law-enforcement experience.”

Lawyers Warn: Bosses Who ‘Friend’ are Begging to be Sued

The National Law Journal:  “Bosses who ‘friend’ their subordinates on social networking sites may seem warm and harmless, but they’ve got liability risk written all over them. So warn employment lawyers.  Managers sending friend requests to staff via Facebook, Twitter and other sites constitute a growing trend in the workplace. And it’s one that needs to stop, the lawyers stress, because online relations between boss and employee can trigger or exacerbate a host of legal claims, including harassment, discrimination or wrongful termination, as well as touch off cries of favoritism if the boss friends only a select few subordinates.”

US Spies Buy Stake in Firm that Monitors Blogs & Tweets  “America’s spy agencies want to read your blog posts, keep track of your Twitter updates — even check out your book reviews on Amazon.  In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the CIA and the wider intelligence community, is putting cash into Visible Technologies, a software firm that specializes in monitoring social media. It’s part of a larger movement within the spy services to get better at using ”open source intelligence” — information that’s publicly available, but often hidden in the flood of TV shows, newspaper articles, blog posts, online videos and radio reports generated every day.”

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