Aloha everyone, as I have covered most of the primary topics that I wanted to regarding Social Media in the Law over the past two months I will be transitioning back to Laws in the Brief. I will be focusing of course on new laws that the Hawaii state government has passed into law this past session. Of course I will also be bringing you my silly doodles to help small business owners and entrepreneurs grasp legal concepts. However, as we all know social media does not sleep and the law tries to keep up as best as it can to changes and innovations in society. Since I find the topic interesting I will strive to share updates and various information when I find something where the two subjects intersect (or collide). Seeing as I already missed my posting window let's get to . . .
Social Media and the Law: Miscellany
Mo. Teachers Want More Online Options
In Missouri, the Teachers Association is suing over a new law that restricts teacher interaction between educators and students. The law is aimed at making sure that a school district that fires employees for sexual misconduct is liable for similar activity if the fired person is rehired in another school district and then engages in similar behavior. However, the Association feels that the part of the provision would cut of online chat functions between teacher-student due to the fact the interaction must be public. For more information check out the article, here.
Beer, Facebook and the SEC?
Remember, the Draw the Law that discussed crowdfunding as a way to raise money? Remember, I also mentioned you need to be careful how you do it or the SEC may feel you are trying to skirt securities laws. Well, In the matter of Michael Migliozzi II and Brian Willam Flatow, the SEC brought action against the two due to their use of the Internet to purchase a brewing company for $300 million. They created a website, used Twitter and Facebook to advertise the site and in return promised that participants would receive a “certificate of ownership” as well as an amount of beer equal to the investment money. The contributions were never collected, but the two involved settled the matter and consented to a cease and desist.
It always seems like beer and Facebook don’t go well for most people whether it is embarrassing photos of them drunk last Friday night or raising funds without an exemption from SEC.
Facebook Changes its Guidelines and May Be You Should To
Finally, for those of you that use Facebook for your Promotions know that the company has changed is Promotion Guidelines. Before this year, Facebook used to have you seek approval from them for offerings of sweepstakes, contests, etc . . . . and they had a heavily confusing and overly specific legal compliance “manual” due to the amount of varying sate, federal, and foreign laws that regulate promotions. However, the new Guidelines significantly more streamlined and it talks about how Facebook features and functionality may or may not be used. One main example is the old Guidelines used to spell everything out with applicable laws making it a text that was too long as it went through every single jurisdiction. Now the revised Guidelines state that operators of promotion, themselves are:
responsible for the lawful operation of [their promotions], including the official rules, offer terms and eligibility requirements (e.g., age and residency restrictions), and compliance with regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered in connection with the promotion (e.g., registration and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals).
Check out their Promotions Guidelines.
My comment on this is it’s clear that someone at Facebook thought about what they were trying to do and modified their policy with respect to this situation. Do you think sometimes you could state the functionality and purpose with your web presence with less words than more? Does it get the point across and is it legally compliant? Sometimes less is more.
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*Disclaimer: This post discusses general legal news and information, but does not constitute legal advice in any respect. No reader should act or refrain from acting based on information contained herein without seeking the advice of counsel in the relevant jurisdiction. Ryan K. Hew, Attorney At Law, LLLC expressly disclaims all liability in respect to any actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this post.