Privacy is a growing concern for businesses and one which many want to know more about. However, when you try to read about it, it can seem like you’ve only dipped your toe in the ocean of the rules that you need to be alive to. As such this week I’ve been having a think about how to make the legal requirements facing organisations a bit easier to understand. Below you’ll find some useful likes with help, posters, tutorials and toolkits to get you thinking about privacy in a more practical way and hopefully allow you to implement it effectively. If you’re anything like me, its usually a case of “the diet starts next Monday…” but why not have a look now? It might be the best thing you ever did to prevent your business from risk. Over the next few weeks I’ll be linking you up to key resources to get your organisation up to speed with Privacy. Who knows, if you do that I might even give up the biscuits, but I draw the line at foregoing pizza… The PIA handbook
A good starting point is to look at the PIA handbook. This will help your organisation assess and identify any privacy concerns (a Privacy Impact Assessment) and address them at an early stage, rather than leaving the solutions to bolt on as an expensive afterthought. PIA handbook
(printer friendly pdf available within) Overview of PIAs Access Aware
Once you have undertaken a Privacy Impact Assessment a great place to go to next is this ACCESS AWARE - toolkit available for download
. The ACCESS AWARE campaign has been designed to help remind staff to be ‘access aware’, helping prompt colleagues to recognise a request for personal information, and know how to deal with it. The toolkit offers a range of free downloadable materials for use within your organisation including posters, slides and other great thing that won’t cost you a penny but are worth every second of your time investing in.
Next week I will look at different issues that orgaisations may face such as requests for information and keeping information safe. If you have any questions after undertaking the two tasks above then email or tweet @regardinglaw.
As you know I've taken a bit of a break from blogging recently because I was busy writing my contribution to Modern Financial Regulation. So if you want to know what Ive been up to the details of the book are here! Ta daaa. I hope you enjoy, I really had lots of fun researching for the Financial Conduct Authority chapter on this book, the launch is next month so look forward to photographs of the event soon.Modern Financial Regulation
is a practical guide to the regulation of financial services following the changes introduced by the Financial Services Act 2012. This new legislation has brough about major
structural and regulatory changes to financial services, including:
- replacement of the Financial Services Authority with the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority;
- introduction of a more robust regime of regulatory, civil injunctive and criminal enforcement;
- a new consumer focussed investigative and prosecution authority that will regulate consumer markets;
- a focus on ‘principles based’ enforcement which mirrors the approach taken in European consumer law
The Financial Services Act 2012 amends and consolidates various statutory provisions. Modern Financial Regulation
charts these changes and their effect upon other discrete areas of financial regulation, including: consumer credit and hire, money laundering, payment services, electronic money and market abuse, insider trading and cartels.Modern Financial Regulation
is essential reading for anyone who requires an understanding of the legal framework that underpins the financial services sector.Benefits
- The only book to provide a comprehensive summary of these fundamental changes
- Easily readable and designed to provide a way into a complex and difficult area
- Covers ancillary areas such as money laundering, payment protection, consumer credit and e-money
- Relevant extracts of legislation reproduced
- Written by two consumer and regulatory law specialists
- A must have for every finance professional at all levels including students
All of the royalties generated by Modern Financial Regulation will be donated to the charitable causes represented by Parkinson's UK and the Free Representation Unit,London.http://www.jordanpublishing.co.uk/publications/commercial/-modern-financial-regulation
Since I havent blogged for a while and have been busy finishing off some articles I thought it was about time that I put together some case law updates with the main areas of law which have developed in relation to communications based offences of social media sites in the past few months.
If you want more details about the freedom of expression issues this raises, then a good place to look is my article in the Communications Journal Issue 1 January 2013 entitled The Communications Act 2003: A New Approach Coming out of the Woods?
Ill be picking up on that in a future post so dont forget to look out for new updates soon.Social Media Case UpdatesIntroduction
As an emerging technology with nearly limitless boundaries and possibilities, social media has given users unprecedented engagement with brands, companies and other users. It is possible, common even, to reach an unlimited audience with the click of a mouse or the use of a smart phone. As such there are few barriers to people speaking their mind and saying what they want due to the instantaneous nature of the technologies employed. Unfortunately, because of the anonymity social media affords, users can express unrestrained and potentially harmful content.
A freedom of information request made in January 2013 has revealed that investigations after complaints regarding posts on social media sites rose by 780% in 2012. It is suggested that the reason for this increase in complaints is due to the way that expression is now subject to new methods of detection. When a comment is made online, unlike speech which is transitional, it is recorded in a way that makes it easily searchable long after the comment was made, floating in contextless digital space and without reference to the mind-set of the individual when they sent it. What is more, the size of the audience, due to the sheer scope of the number of internet users means that their postings can reach many more people than the author may have intended. This can damage working relationships, lead to disciplinary action by employers or even result in criminal sanction. As such care should be taken when posting online.Communications Act 2003 (Act): The meaning of “Grossly Offensive”
Under section 127 (1) (a) of the Act, a person is guilty of an offence (punishable under s127 (3) by up to six months’ imprisonment or a fine, or both) if they send “a message or other matter that is grossly offensive
or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character
” by means of a public electronic communications network. This inevitably raises the question of what this may encompass.
The same section also provides that it is an offence to send or cause to be sent, a false message “for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another
”. The defendant must be shown to have intended or be aware that the message was grossly offensive, indecent or menacing, which can be inferred from the terms of the message or from the defendant's knowledge of the likely recipient. Knowledge of the recipient's likely reaction is only relevant when making inferences about the defendant's intention, and not as to whether the message itself was grossly offensive. The offence is committed by sending the message. There is no requirement that any person sees the message or be offended by it.DPP v Collins
In the leading case of DPP v Collins
( UKHL 40), Collins made a number of racist phone calls to the offices of his local MP. In determining if an offense had been committed under s127(1)(a), the House of Lords considered the standards of an open and just multi-racial society, taking into account the context of the words and all relevant circumstances. This involved an exploration of what would constitute reasonably enlightened
contemporary standards applied to the particular message sent, in its particular context, to see if its content was liable to cause gross offence to those to whom it related, or to be aware that they may be taken to do so. However, the Court stressed that individual are entitled to express their views strongly and that the proper question for determining if s127 (1) (a) had been infringed was whether the language used went beyond what could be considered as tolerable in society. DPP v Chambers
In DPP v Chambers
, dubbed the “Twitter joke trial” Paul Chambers was prosecuted under the Communications Act for sending the following tweet:
“Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your s**t together otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!
Mr Chambers subsequently appealed to the Crown Court against his conviction. The appeal was dismissed with the judge stating that the Tweet was: “menacing in its content and obviously so...any ordinary person reading this would see it in that way and be alarmed
.” However Robin Hood Airport had classified the threat as non-credible on the basis that “there was no evidence at this stage to suggest that this is anything other than a foolish comment posted as a joke for only his close friends to see
.” Following an appeal to the High Court in February, the judges who heard the case were unable to reach agreement on the correct interpretation of s127 and the case was referred for a second appeal.
On 27 July Chambers conviction was quashed. The approved judgment stated, "the appeal against conviction will be allowed on the basis that this 'tweet' did not constitute or include a message of a menacing character; we cannot usefully take this aspect of the appeal further
". Interestingly the Court took the view that English law (and prior to the 203 Act
) had long been tolerant of satirical and even distasteful opinions about matters of both a serious and trivial nature. The Court also noted that the 2003 Act predated the advent of Twitter and that the statutory reference to "menacing" was itself based on the wording of the previous Act of 1935. The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge expressed the view that, "the 2003 Act did not create interference with the … essential freedoms of speech and expression
With regard to if the message was menacing, the Court was clearly impatient of the magistrates and Crown Courts views and it is worth reading the paragraph on this point in full:'if the person or persons who receive or read [a message], or may reasonably be expected to receive, or read it, would brush it aside as a silly joke, or a joke in bad taste, or empty bombastic or ridiculous banter, then it would be a contradiction in terms to describe it as a message of a menacing character. In short, a message which does not create fear or apprehension in those to whom it is communicated, or who may reasonably expected to see it, falls outside this provision, for the very simple reason that the message lacks menace
However, the court specifically stated that this does not preclude Twitter (and by extension Facebook) from being a medium by which such a communication could be made. The Court stated 'Twitter', as we all know is widely used by individuals and organisations to disseminate and receive information. In our judgment, it is inconceivable that grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or menacing messages sent in this way would not be potentially unlawful.”Woods
took a liberal approach to offence and put emphasis on the posters freedom of expression, caution must be exercised when following it.
In the matter of Matthew Woods
, a case decided post Chambers
, an unemployed 19-year-old from Chorley, Lancashire, was jailed for 12 weeks for his Facebook “joke” about April Jones, the missing five year old schoolgirl from Machynlleth, Wales and an additional joke about Madeleine McCann, the three-year-old who went missing during a family holiday in Portugal in 2007. Woods pleaded guilty at Chorley Magistrates court to sending by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive contrary to the Communications Act 2003.
Martina Jay, acting on behalf of the prosecution, stated: "He started this idea when he was at a friend's house, saw a joke on Sickipedia [an online database devoted to sick jokes] and changed it slightly
." In mitigation David Edwards, defending stated that Woods had "in one moment of drunken stupidity placed himself as public enemy number two – behind only the person who carried out this crime
." The court was told Woods's Facebook page was available to a large number of people.Magistrates Courts DecisionsWoods's
sentence comes as the Crown Prosecution Service reviews how to treat social media and electronic communications in the light of several cases, where substantial sentences have been handed down under the Act for offensive posts on Twitter and Facebook even after the judgment of Chambers
. For example, Liam Stacey, received a 56-day jail term after tweeting "LOL" ["laugh out loud"] in response to the on-pitch collapse of the footballer Fabrice Muamba and subsequently posting racist and offensive comments when other users criticised him. More recently a Huddersfield man was given a community sentence for expressing the view that British soldiers in Afghanistan “should die and go to hell
”. Last month a man from Liverpool was arrested for creating a Facebook group praising the alleged killer of Manchester police officers Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes. Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Interim Guidance
In response to the concerns highlighted in the case law above as to when an offence may have been committed, the CPS have stated that “if the fundamental right to free speech is to be respected, the threshold for criminal prosecution has to be a high one and a prosecution has to be required in the public interest
…the emerging thinking is that it might be sensible to divide and separate cases where there's a campaign of harassment, [or] cases where there's a credible and general threat, and prosecute in those sorts of cases and put in another category communications which are, as it were, merely offensive or grossly offensive
However they have acknowledged that this “doesn't mean the second category are ring-fenced form prosecution, but it does I think enable us to think of that group in a slightly different way
." CPS Interim Guidelines
On December 19, 2012 the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP
) issued Interim Guidelines on Prosecuting Cases Involving Communications Sent via Social Media
. The guidelines are designed to give clear advice to prosecutors who have been asked either for a charging decision or for early advice to the police, as well as in reviewing those cases which have been charged by the police. The DPP has at the same time issued a consultation in respect of the interim guidelines, with responses due by March 13, 2013. The interim guidelines applied with immediate effect
but will be reviewed at the end of the consultation period in light of the responses received after which final guidelines will be published.
The interim guidelines suggest consideration of the following general principles w
hich state that prosecutors may only start a prosecution if a case satisfies the two stage test of: 1. Evidential sufficiency to provide a realistic prospect of conviction which includes a consideration of: a. Credible threats;b. Targeted campaigns against specific individuals; c. Communications which may amount to a breach of a court order;d. communications which do not fall into any of the categories above and fall to beconsidered separately because they may be considered grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false.2. Consideration of the public interestComment
While cases such as Chambers
have fleshed out the requirements of the Act, other cases such as Woods
, delivered post Chambers
, highlight that prosecutions may still be brought even when the level of offence, while perhaps distasteful in the extreme, should not engage the criminal law. It is not clear how this will be affected by the CPS guidelines which still leave significant room for manoeuvre. As such, care must be taken when posting on social media platforms (for a practical guide to employment issues see the article “People buy People which you can read at http://www.thenextwomen.com/2013/01/15/business-owners-why-you-need-so)
Social media covers a number of different platforms that enable a user to interact and share information such as comments, photographs, videos and audio, publically or privately with another user online. The most well-known social media platforms include LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. Social media offers a previously unparalleled opportunity for engagement with brands, companies and users due to the instantaneous access to significant part of the global population.
Social networking sites, also referred to as micro-sites or micro blogs, are essentially self-promoting, in that users spread the word for the sites. The more quickly social networking sites grow, the more quickly the content uploaded to them spreads. This viral quality is therefore an appealing way for businesses to market their products and services. Social media platforms are sophisticated enough to enable specific targeted advertisement (e.g. on Facebook) or to enable companies to provide adverts and links to existing offerings such as online shops on their website. A tweet for example could have the direct link imbedded along with an advert highlighting the arrival of the company’s latest products or services. This article contains some tips for getting social media right and hopefully generate good will and revenue for your business.Top TipsProfiles
If you’re a small to medium business you wouldn’t introduce yourself as Smiths Independent Financial Planning, you’d go with Jo Smith. The reason for this is to do with building up trust. It’s harder to relate to a logo than a “real person”. Remember, people do business with people first, brands second.
Ideally try to use a photograph of yourself rather than a logo for your profile picture. Definitely don’t use the dreaded egg or silhouette!Contacting You
Just as at a networking event you would pass out a business card with your name and contact information on it, online you need to let people know how to contact you in a similarly easy and recognizable way. A simple way to do this is to provide a link to your website, put contact details in the “info” section of the site or a click button to your LinkedIn page.Post Contents
Social networking sites are built around interaction. They are not brochures for your firm. As such the site is not an opportunity to send a series of Tweets or flurry of posts on offers which end up getting ignored as “spam”. The correct place for such posts is your companies website. Five minutes of friendly conversation is more valuable than two weeks worth of links to your latest affiliate account. The more real you are, the more valuable your connections will be. Never make a sales pitch as a means of introduction. Remember those door-to-door vacuum sales people? If you have an auto responder, that’s you online!Interaction
Ideally you should be interacting with at least 5-7 people a day by visiting their pages and making comments. On your own page, ask questions of your contacts daily and if people respond take the trouble to reply to them. Be comfortable with being a little irreverent; people will like you even more.
Connect yourself to others by tagging people, businesses, and organizations. You will bring them to your page and you to theirs. Just remember not to tag your fans and friends in promotional photos. It will turn them off and cause them to stop following your posts. Interacting with businesses on their pages will bring traffic back to you as well as help that business gain status.
Way in which you can do this may include the following:
- Offer tips and advice. You can never give away too much for free. Some of the top-selling business books of the past ten years have offered every word for free on a blog.
- Pay attention to your connections’ interests and connect them to others in your database who have similar interests. To this end it is worth taking a moment to review your connections profiles
- If you let the world know how your connections have helped you, they might be able to help someone else in the same way.
Social networking is a bit like being in a big coffee shop with lots of conversations going on. If your page is only a commercial, your revenue and loyalty prospects are likely to suffer as people will ignore you. Remember, you have about three seconds to show them who you are, so think about how to make an instant impact and avoid them scrolling past your content.
Know who you are, and don’t be afraid to be that person. People may remove you, but for every unlike, you will gain five. People buy people, make sure they want to buy you and as a result the services you provide.
Social media offers a previously unparalleled opportunity for engagement with brands, companies and users due to the instantaneous access to significant part of the global population. However, platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are yet to be used by small bands to anywhere near their full potential despite being capable of delivering high revenues at low costs compared to traditional media outlets. For bands and start ups in particular, social media should no longer be seen as a gimmick but as part of your advertising campaign.
As well as the instantaneous nature of social media, a significant additional benefit is huge reach. It offers bands the chance to reach fans, both current and potential, across geographical borders for relatively low marginal cost, however this aspect has been relatively underestimated by a number of acts. It’s not just about promotion it’s about making money too.
Social Media platforms are sophisticated enough to enable specific targeted advertisement (e.g. on Facebook) or to enable the club to provide adverts and links to existing offerings such as the official online shops on the bands website. A tweet could have the direct link imbedded along with an advert highlighting the arrival of the latest products. A simple example is when announcing the latest single, before going on live the band could send a tweet with a link to a page which has the i-tunes link or t-shirts so the fan can select the relevant size and enter the necessary financial and delivery details. Such a sale could result in income of for the band within a few minutes of the fan clicking on the tweet, as well as keeping fans up to date with the latest goings on. The great advantage of doing this live is that fans are more likely to buy a t-shirt when caught up in the gig and want it as a reminder of a great night. You could even offer signed t-shirts via the twitter feed for the first ten buyers and sign them live at the gig, posting the pics on Twitter. Fans will also be attracted by the ability to get regular (and reliable) news about the band tailored to their individuals needs and will return to these pages e.g. to read breaking news about their team before they can obtain it from other media sources. This also has the advantage that the club’s PR team can retain control over editorial content if things go wrong or band members get involved in controversies.
Making it work
It is one thing to have a presence but the key to generating revenue is to sustain it. Often digital media efforts are not prioritized and insufficient time is taken to develop a policy led by people with the skill set to deliver it. However it is not just a case of making the resources available, bands need to demonstrate to fans that their opinions are valued, not taking club loyalty for granted and seek to build a business to customer relationship. Simple ideas to implement can result in significant growth in revenue when handled correctly. Although the initial financial commitments and time employed in setting up a strategy may seem high, by taking a proactive approach clubs will attract new streams of revenue both from consumers as well as brands seeking commercial partners.
In terms of developing such a relationship with fans and tailoring social media to their specific interests, UK singer Imogen Heap, regarded by many as the queen of twitter, exemplifies the power of twitter as a way to reach out to fans and also generate income. Heap designed a gown, known now as the “twitdress”, which allowed her to keep up on her Twittering during the ceremony. She accessorised with a see-through Fendi handbag containing an iPod Touch that was constantly uploaded with images sent by fans.
Communicating via Twitter and her YouTube channel, Heap invites her fans to play an unprecedented role in her work. In the past she has asked her followers to write her press biography (she received 1,500 suggestions from fans from across the world, and it was assembled from 81 tweets), and to submit photos inspired by her lyrics to the photo-sharing website Flickr for her Ellipse album artwork.
For every live performance, Heap invites her audience to decide the set list by voting online ahead of the gig. During a recent tour, each night she recruited a local cellist to play with her on her song Aha, auditioning them online the day before using Vokle, a new video broadcasting platform which she had been asked to test by its creators.
Heap's proactive approach has shown clear benefits: Ellipse debuted at No 5 in the US Billboard Top 200 last autumn. When Heap noticed lots of tweets coming from Indonesia, despite the fact that she had never released a record there, she and her manager booked a gig in Jakarta, which sold out a 4,000 capacity show and paid for her Australian tour.
Many bands have underestimated the potential of social media and integrate it as a fundamental part of their business strategy as well as their PR campaign. The use and availability of increasingly sophisticated smartphones and tablets should leave band’s in no doubt that social media should be at the forefront of when considering the business development of the band. While the potential monetary value of social media is clearly a strong appeal, this aspect should be finely balanced with the need to develop fan loyalty. If fans feel they are an integral part of the what makes the band successful, they are likely to feel a sense of loyalty and respond to the bands direct marketing (e.g. purchase of t-shirts, memorabilia and songs) and indirect marketing (increasing the appeal of the band to potential sponsors). When handled correctly a social media strategy can prove a very lucrative opportunity to develop brand loyalty and revenue streams. Its something to think about next time you have a gig!
Last Thursday Twitter released its Application Programming Interface (API) for advertisers. The launch comes on the back of similar initiatives by Facebook and LinkedIn. Adobe, Hootsuite, Salesforce, SHIFT, and TBG Digital will be the first Twitter "beta" partners. The new facility will allow marketers to work with these partners to control, purchase, and manage their advertisements on the social network and integrate their Twitter advertisements with cross-platform management software which meets their specific business needs.
While this new facility will clearly have benefits for businesses and allow them to control their online identity in a more streamlined manner, marketers need to be aware that while the revenue generation potential of social media is strong, this aspect needs to be finely balanced with the requirements of industry regulators such as the Advertising Standards Agency which apply just as much to social media as traditional advertisement outlets such as newspapers and radio. If the Advertising Standards Agency finds that an advertisement breaches their Codes they may ask the advertiser to withdraw or change the content. Ultimately, if the ASA's powers do not persuade an advertiser to change its advertising, they may refer an advertiser, agency or publisher to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). The OFT can seek an injunction through the courts to prevent the same or similar claims being made in future advertisements.
Because these changes will present issues of regulatory compliance, it is important for businesses to consider them as part of their any digital strategy designed to elicit revenue or develop brand/image loyalty and will be especially important in the wake of API.
Businesses need to be aware when using celebrity endorsers there are risks associated with ‘covertly’ endorsing products in return for payment. The latest regulatory body to issue new stringent guidance in this area is the Federal Trade Commission in America (FTC).
Two weeks ago the FTC announced that it would be updating its guidelines on what constitutes deception in the world of online ads. The new manual takes into account the expanding use of smartphones and the meteoric rise of social media marketing and the effect that this may have upon consumer and their understanding of what is and what is not an advertisement. The FTC have therefore issued guidance on when advertisers need to make consumers aware that a tweet might have been paid for or sponsored, and that this must be clearly disclosed within the body of the tweet e.g. ‘I am a paid spokesperson’.
The American guidance goes further than the UK law in several respects. For instance, if an advertisement without a “disclosure” would be deceptive or unfair, and the disclosure cannot be made clearly and conspicuously on a device or platform, then that device or platform should not be used. Moreover, the update calls on advertisers to avoid using hyperlinks for disclosures that involve product cost or certain health and safety issues. The guidelines also call for labelling hyperlinks as specifically as possible, and cautions advertisers to consider how their hyperlinks will function on various programs and devices.
While it may not seem obvious how this applies to UK businesses, in the past the UK law in the area of consumer protection has quickly followed where the USA has led. As such it is something which UK businesses need to be alive to in the coming years and should be complying with now if they do any trading in the USA. The “rules” of social media in relation to trading standards and the multi-jurisdictional complexities it raises is still very much in its infancy. However, it must be acknowledged that it presents issues of regulatory compliance which need to be considered as part of and digital strategy designed to elicit revenue or develop brand/image loyalty.
When tweeting, businesses would be advised to consider adopting the model standard proposed by the FTC as a “best practice”.
The 11 sacked officials are among 116 DWP employees to have faced disciplinary action for blogging
and social networking
since January 2009, according to figures revealed under the Freedom of Information Act. Of these 116, 34 were given a final written warning, 35 received a written warning and 36 were reprimanded orally for their use of social media
The DWP said use of Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites was "completely restricted" for most of its workers. The only employees allowed to use the sites are those who have a "genuine requirement for access". The department's official Twitter account
is run by the DWP press office.
A DWP spokeswoman said: "The DWP has clear guidelines for staff on the use of the internet and social media. The vast majority of staff abide by these rules. For the small minority who don't, we have strict disciplinary measures in place, ranging from a warning to dismissal."Comment
In terms of managing your risk as an employee its a good idea to do the following:
- Familiarise yourself with the business’s social media policy;
- Regularly review the content of their personal social media channels;
- Ensure all privacy settings are up to date;
- Understand where the line between professional ends and private begins;
- Logout of social media platforms when not at the computer; and
- Think before uploading content as you may not be able to control who reads it.
Really it just comes down to the point that if you wouldt say it in work or to a customer, dont do it on a platform where the text is permenant, easily searchable and you cant control how it is disseminated by others.
You may wonder, what if I've done something, is it too late to fix it? Well not necessarily. A good demonstration of why this is important comes from the case of Stephens v Halfords Plc ET/1700796/10, where an employee who was being consulted over a workplace reorganisation put up a Facebook page entitled “Halfords workers against working 3 out of 4 weekends
”. When he read the company’s social networking policy two days later and realised his page might be in breach of the policy, he immediately took it down. His dismissal was held to be unfair as he had a clean disciplinary record, had removed the page as soon as he realised it was in breach of the company’s policy and he had apologised.
There are many benefits to using social media if it is engaged with responsibly and many firsm pollicies do recognise this, however for employees its worth taking that bit of time to look into the policy and what you can and cant do. A good example of this is offered by Preece v JD Wetherspoons Plc ET2104806/10
the employer was found to have acted reasonably in dismissing a manager for posting derogatory comments about a customer on Facebook during her shift. She thought only a handful of people would see them but in fact hundreds did, including the daughter of the abusive customer. Wetherspoons relied on its clear
social networking policy which prohibited disparaging customers on Facebook, the availability of an employee hotline and that the remarks took place during an ongoing conversation rather than in the heat of the moment. Significantly the Tribunal held that even if the comments were made in the employee’s own time Wetherspoons may still have been able to act in the same way.
A popular british newspaper today published an article claiming that the postings on social media sites by students is making them unemployable. Why you may ask. Well the reason is that the tales of bed hopping that would make Samantha from Sex and the City blush and the photos of nights out are making emplyers think twice about what lies beneath the impecable CV before them.
We live in the age of TMI. Happily we share the most intimate details of our lives with relative strangers and worse our friends tag us in those photos we would rather forget. One Facebook site, Swansea Uni Confessions, has been slammed by the university and its student union.
In a joint statement, registrar Raymond Ciborowski and Students' Union president Tom Upton said: "We are seriously concerned about the nature and content of these pages. The Union have stated "Irresponsible use of social media can damage their future employment prospects as companies are increasingly searching for information on job applicants." Undergraduates use the Facebook pages to post tales of what they get up to after moving away from home. Most of the confessions are anonymous – students email their stories to an unknown administrator who then posts it on the internet for everyone to see.
The statement added: "Students are sharing personal information, including explicit content, with an anonymous page administrator, who has no accountability. "As a result, participants' personal details could potentially be made publicly available for viewing by fellow students, staff, public, press, potential employers.
As if that wasnt scary enough your eeven risking your place at university, with Swansea stating "University regulations clearly state that it is a disciplinary offence to engage in behaviour which could bring the University into disrepute – this includes social media activity. The internet and social media are governed by laws relating to defamation and public order, and as a result, there is no such thing as absolute freedom of speech." Comment
The contents of the statements made by the University arent controversial. In the age of social media, students are fairly savvy with what they upload but with the best of intentions sometimes its easy to forget yourself and post something silly or get caught in a cringeworthy photo. It may seem funny but its serious. What if you get caught "trophying" an item and then the police come knocking at your door with photographic evidence that you have committed theft or vanadalism? Do you really want to potentially end up disclosing a criminal conviction on a job application? What will the investment bank think about the rugby club cow tipping event 2013? I dont think you really want to find out the answers to that questions when youre up against a string of equally qualified applicants.
As for your "gap-yah'. Please no photos of your escapades with the lashional front and no photos of where you chundered everywhar. I dont even care if half your face is covered by your lashmina. Delete it.
1. Set your privacy settings accordingly. Dont know how to do it? http://www.socialmedialawsite.com/1/post/2013/01/new-years-resolutions-to-protect-your-privacy-online-5-top-tips.html and http://www.socialmedialawsite.com/tips-and-links.html
2. Think before you post.
3. De tag yourself from things you dont want to be associted with (or better still what do you think your parents would freak over? Delete that too)
4. Do not post confessions on websites. Your user IP can be found. Its never truly anonymous.
5. Had an argument with the other half? Do yourself a favour, give your best friend your phone. Nobody wants to read the Tweets they sent when drunk or read them a year later. There isnt a big enough duvet to crawl under and die of shame.
Think its all just scaremongering? Well when I was at Uni I remember vividly a very public row between a couple on Facebook where the guy was accused of being a lying cheat, everyone waded in on it. The couple broke up evertually, things moved on and months later he was chatting to a recruiter. The recruiter said straightout he woudnt employ the guy and cited the Facebook row as the reason why. The guy was utterly dumbfounded as to how the recruiter even knew about it. Turns out the recruiter graduated two years earlier but had been friends with both the people on Facebook and added them in freshers week. Guys, its not an urban myth. Think carefully when using Facebook.
As I was updating the site today and looking at my Twitter Feed I came across a Tweet by Solihull Police which made have to read it not once but three times. Te Tweets stated:Solihull Police
@SolihullPolice Not a scam: If you’ve committed a burglary in the Solihull area within the last week - come to our police station & claim a FREE iPad. @SolihullPolice Re the free iPad for burglars, come to our police station with proof of your crime in the next 24hrs & we’ll throw in a special holiday too!
@SolihullPolice "Anyone lost a huge amount of cannabis in the Chelmsley Wood area? Don't panic, we found it. Please come to the police station to collect it." @SolihullPolice tweeted on December 7, sparking much mirth among Twitter users
After reading the Tweets I checked if there were other Twitter Feeds for Solihull Police or if this was a spoof. After a google search it revealed that it was the actual feed. This then caused me to read the feed again anf look at some other Tweets. I noted that people were also reporting crimes on Twitter, such as: @SolihullPolice 2gangs young teens violent arguing outside my house now finally gone if any1 on beat ask to scout around kingfisher drive ta
Solihull Police @SolihullPolice @Deanyster Hi, account isn't always monitored 24hrs, you're always better off calling 999 if it's happening there & then or 101 afterwards.
The member of the public replied by stating:@SolihullPolice that is what I did however ill gladly take photos of them next time and post them on here or is it illegal take pics of kids
I had several thoughts about the site and wondered if the tongue in cheek style is encouraging individuals to engage with the Police or if the informality of the medium may present issues in future. With 16,444 followers the feed has proved popular with Twitter users however the potential for naming and shaming individuals or posting photographs of them next to Tweets could lead to defamation cases if the outcome of the allegations turns out to be unfounded. And what of false reports of crimes? Is there a danger that individuals will post spoof Tweets which get mixed up with genuine reports of Crimes or that valuable rescouces will be taken up investigating false or joke allegations. What of the admissibility of such evidence if it later becomes discloseable in legal proceedings?
Its an issue I will be picking up in a specific post about defamtion online as I think there are several threads which require consideration. At the moment im doing some pieces for Law In Sport so look out for those on LIS's website later in the week.