It's a social world out there.

Posts Tagged ‘social networking

Please click here to read my masters thesis entitled, Sharing the Social Media Scene. I look forward to feedback!Sharing the Social Media Scene

Social media outlets are leading law enforcement to criminals in ways other forms of communication never could.  The legal implications of social media expand far beyond the negative infringements on copyright and defamation that have been covered in earlier posts, the implications of social media have also had their positive effects on the legal system. Laws continue to struggle to keep up with technology, however, they are making the jobs of law enforcement officials easier in many ways.  Criminals are using many social media outlets to communicate just like everyone else.  And like many other these criminals are not realizing how far their tweets and facebook status’ might go, or who might read them and where they might be used again them.

My posts have many times before mentioned how social media posts are being used in criminal trials to prove guilt or innocence.  The constant connectivity lends users to on many aspects of their personal lives, for criminals this is meaning they are leaving a trail.  According to a  recent Washington Post article, criminals, specifically gang members use of social media outlets, facebook and twitter in on the rise.  These groups are using the new media communication tools to share all kinds of incriminating information, and most of it is open for law enforcement to see relatively easily.  Officials use the anonymity of the internet and pose as young women to gain entrance into groups where they become privy to an ongoing conversation between members. (1) It is also common practice for social media services to comply with law enforcement requests, making their investigations run that must more smooth.

No matter the content users should always realize that the information they are posting can be used against them, in this case it is a good thing.  Officials are finding information through social media they never would have otherwise.  The increased use of social media among gang members may seem scary members of sites such as twitter and facebook, but it is good to know law enforcement agencies are closely monitoring the activities here. Just how law enforcement will continue to take advantage of the interaction taking place online is unknown, but it is clear this type of lead tracking works well and is being accepted as legitimate evidence, therefore it is likely they will continue to employ these tactics as well as explore further possibilities of social media tracking.

1) WATKINS, T. (2010, February 2). Use of Twitter, Facebook rising among gang members – washingtonpost.com. washingtonpost.com – nation, world, technology and Washington area news and headlines. Retrieved February 7, 2010, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/02/AR2010020200499.html

Social media is an umbrella that covers many kinds of sites, services and devices.  While each area of social is causing legal waves of different forms, social networking is often at the forefront of legal cases involving social media. Social networking invites the kinds of information sharing and user interaction that other forms of social media do not.  Facebook and MySpace have been at the helm of social networking for years, and they have certainly had their share of legal troubles. While each of the aforementioned sites have worked tirelessly at refining privacy settings and working to limit issues like copyright infringement, their work is never done. In the world of social networking innovation in key, and with innovation comes new uses (that often unplanned), all these uses must be considered from a legal safety standpoint.

As I mentioned copyright infringement is often an area social networking sites need to be careful of.  Users are posting copyrighted photos, videos and music all the time, sites must work day in and day out looking and removing this material. As stated on a Once social networking site that has done this with a good deal of success if YouTube. While users can post videos of all kinds YouTube combs through each and every video that comes to their site. If a video hold copyrights it is removed, if the music used in the video is protected the sound is removed, inappropriate content in removed, at least that is the idea. In 2007 the site may have made a mistake, as stated by The Bar Association website,

“Viacom and YouTube are currently litigating over the appropriate application of these provisions to social networking Web sites. In early 2007, Viacom brought a lawsuit against YouTube in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for copyright infringement, seeking damages of $1 billion. Viacom claims that a large portion of the videos displayed on YouTube are copyrighted materials.” (1)

Here we see an issue of copyright coming involving two media power houses and a great deal of money. As of the yet the case has yet to reach a verdict, but provides a clear example of how legal issues are effecting even the most high-end and organized social networking sites.

Social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace must work around copyright issues as YouTube, but are most prominently involved in cases that ensure user safety. This is because anyone can have a profile on these kinds of sites, and many people who are dangerous.  Legal teams have worked hard to ensure that these sites monitor user interaction and even report users who are registered sex offenders.  In late 2007 the New York attorney general serviced Facebook with many warnings about users safety issues.  As stated by Caroline MacCarthy on her the social cnet news blog,

“Cuomo’s office issued an open letter (click here for PDF) to Facebook accompanied by a subpoena for documents, claiming that an undercover investigation revealed that investigators posing as young users of the site (12 to 14 years old) were “repeatedly solicited by adult sexual predators.” The most troubling part, the attorney general’s office asserted, was that Facebook apparently had been slow or unresponsive in addressing many of the complaints that were lodged as investigators posed as both minors and parents of minors.” (2)

This provides a clear example of the kinds of legal issues social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace battle. The battle is one that will never end, social media sites of all kinds invite information sharing and that can often lead to legal trouble. While social networking has opened the door for many relationships, connections and learning situations that never existed before, they also are challenging legal teams and their administrators with never before seen cases. Social networking use will always invite legal complications.

1) Social Networking and the Law: Virtual Social Communities Are Creating Real Legal Issues. (n.d.). American Bar Association – Defending Liberty, Pursuing Justice. Retrieved January 2, 2010, from http://www.abanet.org/buslaw/blt/2009-03-04/viscounty.shtml

2) McCarthy, C. (2007, October 1). Facebook’s legal issues escalate as N.Y. attorney general strengthens warnings | The Social – CNET News.Technology News – CNET News. Retrieved January 24, 2010, from http://news.cnet.com/8301-13577_3-9788413-36.html


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