Have you noticed how blue the colour scheme on most social media platforms is? Apparently it is a very trustworthy colour, subconsciously symbolising intelligence, wisdom and stability. Users can also be quite colourful, not only the content that they are sharing but the shades that their complexion goes through when something goes wrong! Neutral white, mellow yellow, fiery red and deep purple; there is a complete spectrum for social media users to explore.
The law, however, is very black and white. It is explicit when it comes to right and wrong, and the public relies on its proper execution to be protected. Why, then, is everything so grey when it comes to social media and the law? We have compiled a best practice guide to social media, with lawyers, to help you make sense of the unknown. Here are the top 5 things to consider to avoid getting into legal hot water:
1. How Confident Are You With The Law Of Confidence?
English law does not protect privacy with any specific legislation but there is a common law of ‘right to confidence’. What does this mean? Quite simply, that the owners of any unauthorised published material have a right to privacy (yes, even celebrities on Twitter). In social media this would apply to user-generated content. In this case, marketers would need to gain permission and pay particular attention when using real names or personal information.
2. There’s Only One Captain Jack Sparrow
Piracy, in whatever shape or form, is a crime. You cannot directly copy material from another source. The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 is not international and each country has their own laws of copyright. Copyright gives the owner of an original literary or artistic work, including trademarks, exclusive rights to use that work. Marketers should also understand that social media sites act as a connector and that it is your responsibility to monitor where your content is being shared, so you cannot sue Facebook, Twitter or similar sites for infringement of copyright, and you cannot be Captain Jack Sparrow.
3. Would You Walk On The Wilde Side?
Here’s something to bear in mind; Oscar Wilde accused his lover’s father of criminal libel, AKA defamation. To avoid prison, Queensberry, the accused, hired private detectives to find proof of Wilde’s homosexual liaisons. They did. Wilde was forced to drop the charges and was liable for Queensberry’s legal expenses, which left Wilde bankrupt.
The Defamation Act 1996 may hold you accountable for “reducing a person’s standing in society”. Marketers must check the accuracy and authenticity of all statements before sharing them; retweets should be approached with extreme caution. The Protection from Harassment Act 1997, Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, The Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008, The Fraud Act 2006 and The Trade Marks Act 1994 can all come into play, depending on what is shared.
4. Gossip Girl Here, Your One And Only Source Into The Scandalous Life Of Social Media
No TV programme can demonstrate the damage that can be done on social media better than America’s Gossip Girl. In six seasons of drama a whole load of secrets have torn down or built up friendships, families and frenemies – and all it takes is one message.
In real life, user-generated content (UGC) is increasingly becoming an issue for many marketers. Brands must take care that there is a policy in place to make sure that falsified social media content is policed. Fake reviews, comments and the sharing of edited information are key concerns, particularly when the Terms and Conditions are removed. Our advice is to monitor who retweets your content, and to read the ASA’s Cap Code. XOXO.
5. Get A Social Life!
While social media may suggest that it is an opportunity to socialise with friends outside of work, its role in professional life is becoming more and more prevalent. Human Resources departments across the UK use LinkedIn to source employees but the lines are rather blurry when it comes to posting as an employee and posting as an individual. Marketers must take extra care and distinguish their profiles.
So the next time that you go to update your very blue social media platforms, remember these 5 points. They should help you to avoid a Paris Brown fiasco, but if you are in any doubt then check out the full report.