Social media has exploded in popularity in recent years. With the growth spurt, has come some issues that are affecting personal rights, privacy issues, liable statements, and many other legal issues. This is creating a need for laws and lawyers to set boundaries, ensure justice and monitor situations.
It has been interesting to watch some of the developments that have come with all the changes. For example, many companies are having employees sign electronic policies that cover social media sites. Yes, you can be fired for what you post on Facebook or tweet about. It clearly states so in many policies now.
There was an interesting case in Arkansas. IErickson Dimas-Martinez was released; the conviction was tossed out by the judge because one of jury members was tweeting during the trial. The judge had warned the juror, but no punishment was issued when the case had to be tossed because of his conduct. He even tweeted the verdict before it was publicly issued.
Lawyers are finding that social media missteps are giving them cause to get new trials. It seems like the laws and penalties have not caught up with the problem yet.
Dana Thornton was charged with identity theft in New Jersey. She allegedly impersonated her ex-boyfriend on Facebook. The things she wrote were clearly inflammatory and her ex-boyfriend was a police detective. The maximum sentence sentence is 18 months. Everyone agrees that what the woman did was wrong, but the laws are still unclear.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court against Minnewaska Area Schools and the Pope County Sheriffs office. Allegedly, a minor student was writing and swearing about a school employee on her Facebook page and was forced to write an apology letter. After that experience, the student again complained on Facebook and was swearing again. This time the student received in-school suspension and missed a field trip. The American Civil Liberties Union is suing on her behalf, claiming the student’s right of privacy and free speech.
It is hard to say where all these laws and issues will go with the new and emerging world of social media. There will be more cases, more laws and more decisions made about the things people write, video and share online.
It would be safe bet to say there is really not much privacy left in this world. People can take a picture with a phone and have it online in a matter of minutes. It is almost like adult children have run amok with this new toy called social media. Perhaps everyone should stop and consider whether their mother would approve if they put something on a billboard in every city and town in the world. Just think about it.