Social Media

Ready or not, social media is here to stay and its very existence presents both opportunities and challenges for businesses. Social media allows businesses of all types to engage customers and other constituents in a more personal and directed manner. However, businesses that use social media need to consider potential legal issues in a variety of areas, such as intellectual property, technology, advertising, promotions, privacy, compliance, investor relations, employment, litigation management, insurance and risk management.

Even businesses that choose not to engage in social media should be prepared to address social media use by employees, customers, competitors and others, as well as issues relating to social media that arise in litigation and e-Discovery.

Among the many issues to consider:

  • What is your company policy on social media and how are you disseminating it to employees?
  • How do you train employees to use and monitor social media? What’s acceptable and what’s not?

  • Even if you don’t choose to use external social media, what about internally via Yammer, Chatter, or similar applications?
  • What responsibility do businesses that sponsor or permit posting of user generated content have to police such content? What content do you challenge or take down? When?
  • What level of risk is the company willing to take?

Even if your company isn’t using social media, people are still using social media to talk about you and your company. Your name might appear on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and similar social networking and review/rating sites. Your business might also be mentioned in blogs and online articles and in respective comments. What are the implications, and how can you take advantage of positive mentions and mitigate negatives?

Some of the issues that arise in the online world of social media are no different from those that arise in the “real” world or on the Internet in other places, and can be addressed using traditional legal methods in the applicable disciplines. Benesch’s Social Media Law Group is comprised of attorneys skilled in their respective legal disciplines, but whom are also highly attuned to new technologies, including social media.

There are a number of reasons why social media is different and requires this special attention – it is immediate, interactive and widespread, which means it is more difficult to monitor and control. It is available to everyone, both within and outside the workplace. And like the early days of email, users of social media may have a false sense of anonymity and casualness that may cause them to engage others on social media in ways they would never do in “real” life. On top of this, limitations of the technology may make it difficult for a business to invoke familiar legal protections such as including appropriate disclaimers. All of these differences raise distinct risks and challenges for businesses that can have serious negative impact if not adequately and promptly addressed.

Benesch’s Social Media Law Group is well versed in the issues businesses face in the new world of social media and is able to address them, both by preventing problems whenever possible and by developing creative solutions when unavoidable issues arise. Our multifaceted approach includes:

  • Conducting an audit of the client’s social media use to be sure all potential areas of exposure are identified.
  • Drafting appropriate policies, procedures and terms of use for both internal and external users tailored to the client’s needs and approach to social media.
  • Brainstorming potential issues that may arise in social media and developing protocols and procedures for handling them.
  • Assisting in training managers and employees in appropriate social media use and the potential pitfalls that may arise.
  • Assisting in training personnel who will be monitoring social media for the business.
  • Being on call to address individual social media issues as they arise.