Welcome to the November issue of Mayer Brown’s Privacy Posts, a newsletter on privacy, security and data protection law that will report and provide commentary on developments and trends that are significant to our clients’ business across the globe. As always, we welcome your thoughts and comments and invite you to contact us with any feedback.
The Social Media Revolution: A Legal Handbook
Privacy and Social Media
Rights of personal privacy are recognized and protected under state and federal laws, although the scope of those rights varies among jurisdictions. But currently, no federal or state laws clearly define the level of privacy protection social media users can expect with regard to information they put onto social media sites. While guidance exists in the laws and regulations designed to protect information relating to education, employment and finances (just to name a few), the courts have yet to catch up with the explosive growth of social media use and provide meaningful standards. This may be changing, though, as more lawsuits dealing with aspects of social media are filed and decided.
For example, McMillen v. Hummingbird Speedway, Inc., Pa. Ct. C. P., No. 113-2010 CD, was a personal injury suit brought in Pennsylvania state court. After viewing the public portion of the plaintiff’s Facebook page and discovering information tending to rebut his claims, the defendants moved to compel production of the plaintiff’s Facebook and MySpace usernames and passwords, which the plaintiff had previously refused to produce on grounds of privilege and confidentiality. The court agreed with the defendants, finding that no users of these services could have any reasonable expectation that their communications would remain confidential in light of the privacy policies of Facebook and MySpace, which afforded the website operators complete access to user communications.
If the reasoning in McMillen is any indication of things to come, social media users may encounter increasing judicial reluctance to protect information on social media sites from disclosure. And given the expanding use of social media by businesses and employees alike, litigants may find that information contained on social media sites is increasingly finding its way into the courtroom. To avoid awkward or potentially damaging disclosures, businesses should consider developing policies and processes to educate employees and executives on the risks of providing information to social media sites.
To assist with this, Mayer Brown has recently published The Social Media Revolution: A Legal Handbook. Prepared by lawyers from across our litigation practices, this handbook provides insight into the risks this developing area presents to business, catalogs the present legal environment related to social media and offers suggestions for how to proceed. If you are interested in receiving a complimentary copy, please click the link below to submit your request.
For more information on The Social Media Revolution: A Legal Handbook and its contributors, please visit mayerbrown.com/SocialMediaRevolution.
Litigation and Ethics in the Context of Social Media
As social media's reach expands into law firms and courtrooms, more and more attorneys are using social media tools both personally and professionally. However, there are potential opportunities and dangers for companies and lawyers who enter the virtual world. Recent decisions illustrate how social media information is becoming an increasingly important source of evidence in litigation. In addition, many lawyers who use social media tools are often unaware of potential ethical pitfalls.
On November 4, Mayer Brown hosted a roundtable program for an in-depth look at some ethics concerns and how social media information is being used in litigation.
Of Related Interest
To Tweet or Not to Tweet (at Work)