Social Media: Academic and Legal Risks

An article in the NY Times titled They Loved Your GPA. Then They Saw Your Tweets recently pointed out the consequences of inappropriate postings on social media. The article reads:

As certain high school seniors work meticulously this month to finish their early applications to colleges, some may not realize that comments they casually make online could negatively affect their prospects. In fact, new research from Kaplan Test Prep, the service owned by the Washington Post Company, suggests that online scrutiny of college hopefuls is growing.

Of 381 college admissions officers who answered a Kaplan telephone questionnaire this year, 31% said they had visited an applicant’s Facebook or other personal social media page to learn more about them — a five-percentage-point increase from last year. More crucially for those trying to get into college, 30% of the admissions officers said they had discovered information online that had negatively affected an applicant’s prospects.

Social MediaHigh school students are not the only ones who need to exercise discretion when using social media. Touro Law School Assistant Professor of Law Jonathan Ezor’s PowerPoint presentation Law Students Tweeting Badly demonstrates that law students need to use caution as well.  Beyond the world of academia, an item in Brooklyn Law School Library’s November New Books List shows that the problem goes much further. Social Media: Legal Risk & Corporate Policy by Fordham Law School Adjunct Law Professor Adam I. Cohen (Call #KF390.5.C6 C576 2013)  shows that lawyers and jurists, corporate policymakers, and government regulatory agencies have only just begun to address the practical business and legal risk issues raised by the proliferation of social media channels and content.

The book explores the implications suggested by the precursors of a forthcoming tidal wave of social media-related civil litigation, the spectrum of potential corporate policy approaches to reducing the risks inherent in social media use, and the social media service privacy policy minefield that all social media participants, corporate and individual, will have to navigate if they want to optimize what little control they have over information shared by using social media. The book’s highlights include the practical litigation implications of social media cases likely to be of relevance to business enterprises are examined; the issue of attorney ethics in a social media context; civil cases that have involved social media are discussed and classified by type; the reasons for having a corporate social media policy; a discussion of the fundamental areas generally covered by social media policies; and a policy creation “toolkit” that organizes and provides sample provisions with which to build a social media policy are included.