Social Networking Websites

Like many of you on the East Coast, I’ve been spending my Sunday without power, thanks to Hurricane Irene. As I write this Sunday night, we’re in our eighth hour without electricity. Thankfully, other than losing some small branches and a bunch of leaves, we fared pretty well in what was left of the tropical storm. And the Red Sox swept their storm-related Saturday doubleheader, so there’s that.

But without electricity, I’m writing this post by candlelight and quill pen. OK, not really. Candlelight and iPad. But consider that I’m sacrificing one of my ten hours of iPad juice for this instead of beating my kids at Cut the Rope, or whatever. I know: you can thank me later.

Actually, losing power got me thinking about just how much I rely on electricity and computers and iPads and iPhones, and also how much that reliance has increased since I started law school, 20 years ago this week. And over the years, I came to appreciate just how much technology has allowed small firms to compete with our Biglaw colleagues.

What are the five biggest ways that technology has empowered (if you will) small firms?

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Are you oversharing?

It’s strange how quickly the world changes. Things used to be so simple, but now Steve Jobs has resigned from Apple and we’re having earthquakes in Washington, D.C.

Moreover, some fundamental rules of online conduct are beginning to look like artifacts from a bygone era when people were crazy for RAZRs and nu metal.

Gone are the days of not Facebook friending coworkers. Online oversharing on social networking sites has simply become sharing. And workplaces have to adjust their rules and policies accordingly.

A National Labor Relations Board report released last week attempts to explain the changing legal standards for social media usage in the workplace. Written by the NLRB’s general counsel, Lafe E. Solomon, the document provides several case studies to illuminate how much smack-talking employees can do online while remaining legally protected.

In short, it’s a lot. Still, not quite everything is different. Calling your boss a “super mega puta” will still land you in the chokey. More on this and some of the other case studies, after the jump….

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Click if you "like" this wall.

* Germany essentially outlaws the “like” button on Facebook. Really, why did we let them reunify? Did we all honestly think that was a good idea? [BuzzMachine]

* West Memphis Three could be getting out of jail. Umm… hide yo’ kids, hide yo’ wife? [WSJ Law Blog]

* Is an MBA just as bad of a bet as a JD? [Law & More]

* The hippies who don’t like genetically engineered crops need to remember that not everybody can afford to waste money on produce grown inefficiently archaically organically. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Is that kiddie porn on your shirt or did you just buy it from Urban Outfitters? [Gawker]

* You can’t blame your e-discovery vendor when things go wrong. [Law & Technology / Forbes]

* I’m very glad that everybody is now here at the “there’s a huge problem with the market for legal education” party. Can I interest anybody in the “prospective law students are incapable of making a rational choice” punch? It’s spiked with Absolut Special Snowflake and it gives everybody the same deranged sense of self worth as new law student. [Truth on the Market]

* Of course, if you absolutely must go to law school, think outside the box and be ready to take advantage of any opportunity. You are responsible for your own career from day one. [An Associate's Mind]

Judge Terence Evans

* Professor Eugene Volokh poses this question to his readers (we considered a similar query before): “I Got Awful Grades My First Year in Law School. Should I Quit?” [Volokh Conspiracy]

* I’m not that familiar with canon law, but I don’t think it looks favorably upon alleged groping of teenage girls. [La Crosse Tribune]

* Professor Douglas Berman wonders if there should be a social networking website designed for use by prisoners. (Commenter challenge: come up with a name for this “Facebook for jailbirds” social network.) [Sentencing Law and Policy]

* Stroock stricken with lawsuit by former partner. [Am Law Daily]

* Professor Paul Horwitz’s (thoughtful and measured) response to the law prof turned scamblogger. [Prawfsblawg]

* Seventh Circuit Judge Terence Evans, RIP. [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel]

When I was in college, it was not altogether uncommon for people to leave their laptops unattended with their Facebook accounts still logged in. It was not altogether uncommon for an enterprising prankster to creatively twiddle with said account. A little switch of sexual preference here, a mildly offensive profile picture there, and maybe a nonsensical new profile quote.

It was annoying, and at worst required minor social media damage control, but nobody seemed to care much.

Nowadays, people definitely care. The California Court of Appeals ruled on July 21 that the same sort of online mischief can lead to felony identity theft conviction.

Let’s learn more about Rolando S., a teenager who messed with the wrong Facebook account….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Don’t Mess With Your Friend’s Facebook; It Might Be a Felony”

I always assumed that my youth (or quasi-youth) would guarantee me superstar status in connection with social media. I am not sure why I thought this, because my first foray into Facebook was a bit of a disaster. I was quite late to the party, joining years after I realized that everyone was doing it. To compensate, I went on a mad dash to accumulate as many friends as possible. I sent out friend requests to people that I had barely known, mistreated, been mistreated by and would not acknowledge if I saw them on the street. I would also accept anyone’s friend request. I recall that about a month after I joined, a man with no common friends sent me a request. His name was “Summertime,” he had no last name, and his picture was him without a shirt and holding what appeared to be an ax. I gladly accepted his request. Looking back, I shudder to think what a social media expert would have concluded was my personal brand based on viewing my profile.

Years later, when I became @ValerieLKatz, I forgot my Facebook failure and assumed that I would be a Twitter phenomenon. I believed, as with Facebook, that the only thing that mattered was to have a lot of tweeps.

So how do you get the tweeps, I wondered?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Size Matters: I Need A Hero”

There’s not much I can add to this Weinergate thing that hasn’t already been covered on these pages and everywhere else. Congressman Anthony Weiner has said that he’s not going to resign over the scandal that he tweeted various body parts to women other than his wife. I believe that he will have to resign, although not because of the tweeting, but because of the lying about it afterward. (Previously, he claimed that his social-media accounts had been hacked. He then admitted that that wasn’t strictly true. Or even a little bit true. He also conceded that the dog had actually not eaten his homework.)

This online imbroglio has made many wonder why he would even consider posting compromising photos and language on Twitter. Or for that matter, why he would even be on Twitter in the first place. Or why anyone would be.

Lawyers in particular often have trouble understanding why they should be on Twitter. Even my esteemed colleague Mark Herrmann has “proved” that Twitter doesn’t work. Well, I’ve got news for people who doubt that they should be tweeting:

Many of them probably shouldn’t be.

In fact, I’ve tried to identify the types of people (in addition to shirtless politicians in various degrees of arousal) who should stay away from Twitter. Here, then, are five people who should never tweet….

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Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg attends a joi...

Facebook goes on the offensive to protect its founder from a man it says is a scammer

When Facebook called Paul Ceglia, the man who claims to have a contract with Mark Zuckerberg for half of Facebook, an “inveterate scam artist,” Ceglia’s lawyers at DLA Piper replied that the company had no facts to back that claim up. “We are prepared to move the case forward into discovery and our client looks forward to his day in court,” said DLA.

Facebook is ready for discovery too: their lawyers at Gibson Dunn have filed to expedite it. Their attached memorandum of law makes a strong case against Ceglia. Facebook’s hoping to give Ceglia his day in court, but it’s hoping that it’s a criminal court.

Facebook wants the original version of the contract that Ceglia claims Mark Zuckerberg signed and the emails that Ceglia said were exchanged regarding that contract. Facebook says they’re as fake as that app that claims to let you see who your Facebook stalkers are. To support their claims, they’ve dug into the dark corners of Ceglia’s past, mentioning again his drug and fraud convictions as well as disclosing a land scam that Ceglia has allegedly been running for years, that had not previously been discovered. Note to self: do not sue huge corporation with any potential skeletons in the closet.

If the allegations Facebook’s lawyers make are true, Ceglia could end up with prison time instead of a hefty chunk of Facebook stock.

Read on at Forbes.com….

PALO ALTO, CA - AUGUST 18:  Facebook founder a...

Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg respond to Paul Ceglia, the wood chipper who claims to own half of Facebook

Now that the Winklevoss twins have been sent packing by Chief Judge Alex Kozinski (with a kick in the ass on the way out the door from the rest of the Ninth Circuit), with a 0.00% chance of the Supreme Court taking their case, Facebook’s lawyers can focus on the latest “Actually, I Own Facebook” lawsuit.

Paul Ceglia claims to have a contract with Mark Zuckerberg that entitles him to half of the company. Zuck supposedly signed away a stake in Facebook in 2003 while a Harvard undergrad in exchange for $2,000 in seed money from Ceglia.

In an amended complaint filed in April (with the help of DLA Piper), Ceglia claimed to have some damning emails from Zuckerberg where they discussed “the face book” project at length. Ceglia said the emails showed that Zuck deceived him, allegedly telling him the site was not very popular with the Harvard kids, and asking him if he would like his $2,000 back — at the same time as Zuckerberg was moving out to California to ramp up operations.

Lawyers at Gibson Dunn filed Facebook’s response to Ceglia’s lawsuit this week, calling him a scam artist and saying that the contract he claims to have is “doctored” and that the evidence he has produced is “fabricated.” Here’s the scorching opener to the answer, which was certainly written as much for the media as for the judge….

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File this one under “Disappointing, but not really surprising.”

According to a new study, it turns out that quite a few law students not only break the law, but also post the evidence on Facebook. We’ve already covered why this is a bad idea.

For some reason I keep hoping Facebook has been around long enough that people –- at least those of us older than 16 –- would stop doing stuff like this and this. But I guess I’m just naive.

Let’s look at the study results….

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