H1 2013 Quick Links, Part 3 (Social Media and Content Regulation)

By Eric Goldman and Jake McGowan


* Growing Facebook fatigue?

* The FDA thinks that a pharma company liking a comment on its Facebook page constitutes an endorsement of the comment contents.

WSJ: More questions about how Facebook handles its relationships with its developer community.

* Any website that chooses to implement Facebook Connect won’t find any sympathy from me when they complain about the very obvious downsides.

Partially related: TechCrunch abandons Facebook comments.

* Klayman v. Facebook appealedPrior blog post.

* From 2010: a visual representation of the geography of Facebook relationships.

LA Times: Are movie studios souring on Facebook advertising?

* Liking “Curly Fries” on Facebook is correlated with high intelligence?

* Sluss v. Com., 381 S.W.3d 215 (Ky. 2012):

But “friendships” on Facebook and other similar social networking websites do not necessarily carry the same weight as true friendships or relationships in the community, which are generally the concern during voir dire. The degree of relationship between Facebook “friends” varies greatly, from passing acquaintanceships and distant relatives to close friends and family. The mere status of being a “friend” on Facebook does not reflect this nuance and fails to reveal where in the spectrum of acquaintanceship the relationship actually falls. Facebook allows only one binary choice between two individuals where they either are “friends” or are not “friends,” with no status in between.

Other Social Networks

* Forbes: Don’t Fire An Employee And Leave Them In Charge Of The Corporate Twitter Account.

5 Twitter Features You’d Never Guess Weren’t Invented by Twitter.

Wired: Autopsy of Friendster

* Twitter sued for reassigning @sunvalley from a user to the ski resort.

Content Regulation

* Tamiz v. Google, Inc., [2013] EWCA Civ 68. Blogger.com may be liable for user-caused defamation in England:

The provision of a platform for the blogs is equivalent to the provision of a notice board; and Google Inc goes further than this by providing tools to help a blogger design the layout of his part of the notice board and by providing a service that enables a blogger to display advertisements alongside the notices on his part of the notice board. Most importantly, it makes the notice board available to bloggers on terms of its own choice and it can readily remove or block access to any notice that does not comply with those terms.

Related blog post on the new UK defamation law.

Guardian: Fake reviews plague consumer websites.

ZAGG Inc v. Anthony H. Catanach Jr. and J. Edward Ketz, 2012 WL 4462813 (E.D. Pa. 2012).  Defamation case has settled and the blog post was removed.  Prior blog post.

* Mistrial (due to jury deadlock) declared in Jones v. DirtyWorld. Prior blog post.

* PG Pub. Co. v. Aichele, 705 F.3d 91 (3d Cir. 2013):

More recently, membership in the Fourth Estate has been democratized. Access to blogs, smartphones, and an extensive network of social media sites (not the least of which are Twitter and Facebook) have transformed all of us into potential members of the media. While in almost any other situation this would be a boon to a free and democratic society, in the context of the voting process, the confusion and chaos that would result from a potentially limitless number of reporters in a polling place would work the opposite effect, potentially creating confusion, frustration, and delay. This is to say nothing of our earlier holding that the rights of access for the press and public are co-extensive. In this situation, anyone could record in the polling place if the First Amendment protected the right of access thereto.

Bierman v. Weier, 826 N.W.2d 436 (Iowa 2013):

the Internet and social media have evened the playing field somewhat, by giving individuals with access to a computer a ready platform for spreading falsehoods or engaging in cyberbullying. Yet unlike the media, these individuals may have fewer incentives to self-police the truth of what they are saying. For example, they may speak anonymously or pseudonymously. Also, because they are not in the communications business, they may care less about their reputation for veracity. In short, as compared to a generation ago, nonmedia defendants may have a greater capacity for harm without corresponding reasons to be accurate in what they are saying. This is a justification for retaining our media/nonmedia distinction.

From the dissent:

We also note that with the advent of new methods of mass communication, which make it more difficult to distinguish between media and nonmedia defendants, plaintiffs now have an increased ability to rebut false publications. While the majority argues that contemporary communications make it easier for one to defame another, referencing the low cost and relative ease with which Scott was able to have a professional-looking book printed, I note that the plaintiffs in this case also have the same easy access to mass communication. For a fraction of the cost they have incurred in this lawsuit, Beth and Gail could write their own book and self-publish it rebutting the claims made by Scott. For even less, they could rebut his claims on Facebook or on a blog or on a website created just for that purpose. This democratization of media has only been realized in recent years and is available to all plaintiffs, whether the defendant is a member of the media or not.

The People v. Tien Duc Nguyen, 2013 WL 205737 (2013):

Beware of the dangers of the Internet. It makes semiautomatic assault weapon kits available at the click of a mouse. Furthermore, it would appear to provide guidance on assembling the weapons, as well as suggestions for avoiding criminal convictions arising out of the possession of the parts, their assembly, and even the possession of the completed weapons. But woe betides the consumer who trusts every scheme espoused on the Internet.

NY Times: Defining Bullying Down

* Marc Randazza, The Need for a Unified & Cohesive National Anti-SLAPP Law, 91 Or. L. Rev. 627  Amen!

Regions Bank v. Kaplan, 2013 WL 1193831 (M.D. Fla. March 22, 2013).  This is a messy lawsuit involving an alleged Ponzi scheme.  One of the principal litigants (Shaw) allegedly posted a defamatory statement about another principal litigant on the “Fraud-Net” website, run by the Florida Bankers Association.  Fraud-Net is “a dynamic, secured, online database created to help financial institutions and law enforcement in the fight against financial crime.”  Because everyone seems to agree that Shaw provided the content to Fraud-Net, it’s an easy Section 230 dismissal.

* AFL Telecommunications LLC v. SurplusEQ.com Inc., 2013 WL 2211629 (D.Ariz. May 20, 2013):

“The blog post is not a “classic advertising campaign,” and thus without any evidence establishing that the blog was disseminated to the purchasing public, the Court cannot find that the post constitutes a commercial advertisement….AFL has failed, however, to point to any evidence that the blog post was disseminated. The record lacks evidence showing that anyone actually saw the blog post, or, more importantly, that anyone responded to it and was influenced to purchase a splicer. Without this evidence, the Court cannot infer from the blog post’s content alone that the blog was sufficiently disseminated.”

* WaPo: With few other outlets, inmates review prisons on Yelp.

* Yoder v. University of Louisville, 2013 WL 1976515 (6th Cir. May 15, 2013).  Upholding the dismissal of a lawsuit by a nursing student who was dismissed from school for blogging confidential details of a patient’s labor. Prior blog post.

* In re Skinner, 740 S.E.2d 171 (Ga. Sup Ct. March 18, 2013). State bar discipline when:

after the client had notified Ms. Skinner that the client had discharged Ms. Skinner and had obtained new counsel, Ms. Skinner posted on the internet personal and confidential information about the client that Ms. Skinner had gained in her professional relationship with the client. Ms. Skinner posted the information in response to negative reviews of Ms. Skinner the client had posted on consumer websites.

* Jacobs v. Seay: A revenge porn victim sues her ex-boyfriend.

Forbes: Love It Or Hate It, Ripoff Report Is In Expansion Mode.