This Week in Social Media Law: "The Rights We Have Are the Rights Facebook Gives Us"

Lance Godard Editor and Social Media Manager at JD Supra, JD Supra

Posted on December 1st 2012

This Week in Social Media Law: "The Rights We Have Are the Rights Facebook Gives Us"

This week, we look at Google’s $22.5 million settlement with the FTC over its misuse of data from Apple’s Safari users, the social media line between teacher as educator and teacher as individual, and the recent Facebook priva … er … data use policy change that gives the social network essentially unlimited use of your data, as it sees fit. Enjoy:

Google Safari $22.5 settlement is “fair, adequate and reasonable”

$22 million is a lot to spend on a box of cookies… You may recall the $22.5 million fine slapped on Google for violating the terms of its 2011 “Buzz” consent order when the company misrepresented its data collection practices to Apple Safari users. The latest settlement had been held up in court, not because Google didn’t want to pay, but because advocacy group Consumer Watchdog thought that the FTC was going too easy on Google (they were suggesting anywhere from $3 to 8 billion) . That challenge was just rejected by the judge reviewing the settlement, who found the fine and related conditions to be “procedurally and substantively fair, adequate, and reasonable.” The settlement sends a warning to all companies that gather consumer data, write privacy lawyers Cynthia Larose and Jake Romero from law firm Mintz Levin:

“For businesses that collect and/or use personally identifiable information, the obvious take-away is that one’s policies must correctly and accurately define and describe the uses and maintenance of personal information.”

No need to fret about the future of the internet giant, however. If 2011 revenues are any guide, Google will make up that $22.5 million before the New Year.

Does social media belong in the classroom?
Should teachers use social media as part of the curriculum? Not without first considering the serious legal issues it might create, writes school law attorney Jackie Wernz from Franczek Radelet. One key concern:

“[T]eachers’ use of personal social networking websites can create issues for schools that need to supervise or investigate such use. This is especially true in states like Illinois that have laws prohibiting public employers from asking for passwords to social networking accounts, even if they are used for a business purpose.”

Wernz isn’t advocating a change in the law (“Simply because you sign up to be a public teacher should not mean that you give up all rights to a private personal life”), but rather a policy that requires teacher to draw a clear line between their personal and professional use. Come to think of it, that might not be a bad policy for a lot more of us to adopt.

“The rights we have are the rights Facebook gives us”

Facebook is changing the rules again, and you’re probably not going to like it. But since the social networking company has decided to eliminate its policy of letting users vote on policy changes, there’s not a whole lot you can do about it (short of leaving the network, that is). What’s the change? For the first time, the company has changed its privacy policy data use policy to state that it can share everything you do on the network, as often as it wants, with any company affiliated with Facebook. From Gerald Ferguson at law firm BakerHostetler:

“The latest Policy revisions make it clear that in ‘personalizing’ ads, Facebook may consider using everything you do and say on Facebook and anything others say or display about you when they ‘tag’ you. You may remove your posts and other’s tags from your timeline, but this action does not remove the information from Facebook’s database.

The significant addition to this Policy is an entirely new provision that, for the first time, permits Facebook to engage in unlimited sharing of your personal information with ‘affiliates.’”

In plain English? “All your data are belong to us.” Ferguson suggests that the policy change may signal a Facebook acquisition of an advertising agency (we wrote about that here). But that might just be the beginning…

Watch this interview with Ferguson (where he proclaims that “the rights we have are the rights Facebook gives us”):


You are what you surf

And finally, from the folks at law firm Morrison & Foerster (aka MoFo) we have an infographic on social media usage making the rounds. Here's how you spend your time socializing these days, don't you know:



Lance Godard

Editor and Social Media Manager at JD Supra, JD Supra

Lance Godard is an editor and social media manager at law news distributor JD Supra. He writes daily on legal issues of the moment, covering numerous industries and fields. Prior to JD Supra, Lance founded and ran 22 Tweets, in which he interviewed lawyers about their professional practice live, on Twitter, via 22 questions. He loves cycling, wearing yellow, and winning, but unlike the other Lance has never been accused of blood doping.

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