Social Media Law & Law Enforcement

This post was inspired by an Australian Law Firm raising the question for Social Media Laws – given a series of risk that were stated on the companies blog. And as more and more company officers wonder how to deal with it and what kind of rules to establish and what kind of measures IT should take, I thought about the approximately 500 Million People who discuss those companies, their teams, products or services and how some LAW could stop the conversation:

1) Adding a statement on every advertising that customers shall not share or redistribute, discuss or blog about the particular advertising they were confronted with. Could be in a similar way like the drug industry is doing it.

2) Phone systems shall add to the phrase “this call may be monitored ….” the phrase, “you agree to not discuss, share or redistribute parts or the full content of the conversation you are going to have with any of our employees, agents, call centers, partners or anybody directly or indirectly related to this call in any media otherwise known as social media”.

3) Customer contracts may need to be augmented that a user of the product is not allowed to share the experience with the product, adjacent products, the company, the partner or any other third party the company is associated with, in any media in particular social media.

4) Product descriptions may need an addendum that explains that any part of the description may not be discussed in social media and any information from social media is neither a suggestion from the company or any of it’s contributing third parties or partners. Customer has to ask the company if any of the suggested usage stated in social media is conflicting withe the intended usage of the manufacturer before attempting using the product in any different way. The request has to be in writing and the letter has to be sent to…

5) The owner of the product is responsible that in case the product is provided to be used by somebody else, that this user is in compliance with the above rules and regulations and agrees to not mention, comment, state or otherwise discuss anything about the respective product.

A corresponding law may need to govern import restrictions so that ANYTHING, product or service or even visitors to the respective country need to sign when entering the respective country to obey to this law.

The positive side effect is that it will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs in consulting and law firms as well as government departments across the world!

Did I miss anything?


P.S. a personal note:
Dear Malcolm Burrows,
I have a lot of respect for your business and am sure you did this with all the best intent helping your clients to protect them from the social media “threat”. But think of it this way: Our society thrived with the Internet despite the fact that we never created an “Internet Law” – probably because of that. Do you really want a LAW to govern the global social web?


2 Replies to “Social Media Law & Law Enforcement”

  1. Axel
    I read Malcolm’s original post and your lengthy response. Whilst I support the fact lawyers are starting to enter the debate and get their heads around this, I share your concerns as to what they feel they need to contribute, particularly as one of the theme’s I took from Malcolm’s post was a desire to focus on the application of law and the control of employees.

    Malcolm is right in that, in a legal sense, the issue is complex and fraught with danger. But then again, so is business, or life.

    Malcolm’s list of legal risks are not unique to social media (or as he incorrectly labels it social networking sites). The risks he cites have existed for many years and will exist into the future regardless of how we choose to interact and engage. These are business risks first and foremost. So do we need to view them as risks that exist when using social networking sites? Of course.

    This is why I believe the focus on social media policy should be on the internal culture and conflict management. The organisation needs to focus on the type of culture that defines them – a vibrant, open, accountable culture is a far better defence mechanism to these risks than yet another rigid policy or appendix to an employment contract.

    This is also why I believe IBM’s social media policy document is one of the best examples of what a company should do. IBM’s document focuses on what IBM stands for and how IBMers around the world conduct themselves. This is culture, not law.

    So to your final question Axel – do we need a social media law? In my opinion no.


    1. Thanks Mark –
      Malcolm came actually back to me. Obviously if the LAW is ones world everything will be seen from the legal point of view – whether it makes sense or not. Only if we have a LAW – somebody can break it ;-)

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