Category Archives: Social Media Lessons

Employee Fired for “Private” Facebook Post

Plaintiff Deborah Ehling thought she could comment freely on Facebook because she limited her posts to a restricted group of her “friends” and her posts were not available to the general public. She was wrong. When her employer learned of her controversial posts and terminated her, she thought she had recourse. She was wrong. In an important ruling for employers, the District Court of New Jersey recently dismissed Ehling v. Monmouth-Ocean Hospital Service Corp., et al., (August 20, 2013). This case put to the test the Federal Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2701-11 (“SCA”) as applied to social media content in the workplace.

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Ethical Advertising on LinkedIn

Most professionals utilize a LinkedIn profile and/or a professional Facebook page. A large proportion of LinkedIn’s 150 million users are professionals; about 2% of which are attorneys. The proliferation of social media use by professionals has sparked debate regarding the collision between ethics and online marketing. This is particularly so because the standard, one-size-fits-all format available to social media users does not take into account that many professionals must adhere to state specific ethical rules when advertising. This gap has prompted some serious ethical concerns.

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Facebook Discovery Infraction Leads to Attorney Sanction

The proliferation of social media has altered the litigation landscape. Most attorneys on both sides of the v. understand the implications of social media, particularly during the discovery stage. Nonetheless, the law governing social media and discovery is still in its infancy. The result is troublesome: practitioners encounter social media issues but the rules governing those scenarios are not entirely clear. One rule that is well established is the requirement that a legal hold be implemented for all relevant materials, including social media content. The failure to abide by this rule could be dire.

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Facebook Post Lands Attorney in Hot Water

Fact: most professionals use social media in one form or another. Fact: Professional Liability Matters has previously warned of the various risks associated with LinkedIn, Facebook, and other online communications. Nonetheless, we continue to encounter seemingly countless reminders of missteps by professionals through presumably well-intentioned social media use. Recently, a Facebook post from a New York based attorney resulted in a fight over sanctions.

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The Risks of Online Consultation

We’re inundated with online advice, whether solicited or not. Many of us utilize various online sources to obtain quick answers without live, in-person consultation from a licensed professional. WebMD is the classic example of such a site but there are countless others devoted to providing professional advice to an unknown audience. We previously warned of the malpractice and ethical risks of providing online professional services when we posted about the lawsuit filed against Dr. Oz following his infamous “sleep aid solution.” To combat these risks, some jurisdictions regulate the use of online services for various classes of professionals. Such regulations were brought to the test when an internet savvy veterinarian recently filed suit against a Texas regulatory board for suspending his license.

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LinkedIn Escapes Cyber-Liability Exposure

In June 2012, the popular social networking website LinkedIn was hacked resulting in approximately 6.4 million passwords stolen from the website. Within hours of the incident, the passwords were posted on the internet and were used to direct traffic to fraudulent websites. The massive security breach also resulted in a class action lawsuit against "the world's largest professional network" in the Northern District of California. The plaintiff class alleged that LinkedIn failed to adequately and properly secure the personal information stored on its website. This is the classic example of cyber-liability exposure.

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Serious Sanctions Imposed for Deleting a Facebook Account

A New Jersey federal judge recently ruled that a plaintiff's deletion of his Facebook account amounted to the sanctionable destruction of evidence. This decision has major implications on social media discovery in all litigation. Some experts believe that this result proves that “social media access is fair game in litigation and that workers who try to conceal their online lives will pay a high price.”

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Social Media Ramifications for Professionals: A Cautionary Tale

The use of social media as a marketing tool for professionals has become increasingly common. Studies suggest that this trend will continue as more professionals are utilizing social media to develop business. In an ever-changing technological world, many attorneys and other professionals tweet, post status updates, engage in internet advertising, or blog on a regular basis without considering the legal and ethical ramifications . Recent decisions serve as a reminder that the outcome of social media activity may result in unwanted and unintended attention.

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