User Login


Which kind of user are you?

Chat with us

Social Media and Legislation

Attorneys Appearing in Court

Welcome to the third and final part of our three part series on social media and the law. In Part 1, we took a look at how social media can have a direct impact on litigation and court proceedings. In Part 2, we took a look at some best practices you and your clients can employ in order to best use social media and shield yourself from litigation. In this third and final part, we’re going to take a look at the tech giants themselves - why they’re hard to define as legal entities, and what the future might hold.

Many of the current Democratic candidates are running on platforms to legislate against the big tech companies, perhaps most notably Elizabeth Warren, who has a plan to break up Big Tech. One of the problems inherent with crafting legislation to curb the less scrupulous activities of the tech giants is that they aren’t easily defined, in part because they operate in ways we’ve never seen before. A recent Gizmodo article, “Mark Zuckerberg is a Slumlord”, summarizes the issues well. Facebook is a publishing company, but it doesn’t publish. It’s a technology company, but it’s mostly invested in advertising, not RnD. The company isn’t subject to the rules of a common carrier. All of the other tech companies have similar problems and they’ve each created something that resembles either vertical or horizontal monopolies.

The problem extends beyond simply crafting legislation to regulate tech companies; this technology affects every facet of our lives. Employers can’t discriminate based on a number of factors, but there’s no law against them perusing an applicant’s Facebook page. In a similar vein, you might opt to look at someone’s social media in order to decide whether or not to give them a loan. You might also Google their name to see what kinds of activities they’ve been a part of. In other words, technology allows the movers and shakers of the world to discriminate in ways that they’re not explicitly forbidden to.

One of the biggest problems going forward is that laws can’t keep pace with new technology. There may need to be a fundamental shift in how our lawmakers look at legislation in order to deal with this; we may need to create legislative bodies that work much faster so we can keep pace with new technologies. This may mean creating new bureaucratic bodies that create regulations tech companies have to follow - something like a new FCC. To avoid that, lawmakers may simply have to learn to compromise in order to address new challenges, or they may leave things to the judicial branch, hoping that everything will sort itself out in the courts. We’re in a brave new world, and now that the genie is out of the bottle, it’s hard to see us going back - we’re going to need to adapt.

That’s it for our three-part series. We hope you enjoyed this brief look into some of the connections between social media and the law. We’re not just a font of information - should you need a special appearance attorney, get in touch with us, and we’ll find one for you.