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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Google Must Identify Anonymous Blogger in Defamation Suit

A New York attorney who was the subject of online harassment from anonymous bloggers who created two websites directed at the attorney ( and succeeded in obtaining an order to compel Google to produce the names and email addresses of those who registered the blogs, as well as the IP addresses for the two blogs.  The attorney had filed a defamation lawsuit against the anonymous bloggers and was seeking their identities through court discovery procedures.  A New York Supreme Court judge ordered Google to contact the users and notify them that they have 15 days to object to the disclosure. 
In one of the blogs, the blogger calls the attorney and his firm "shady lawyers" and claims the firm is guilty of "illegal activities" and mistreatment of people.  The author of the blog (whose occupation is listed as "stopping corrupt lawyers") defends his postings by stating that they are opinion only and, therefore, protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  The blogger states that he or she is "only exercising my right to speak freely and any decision you make should not be influenced by anything read on this blog, what you do is up to you!!!"
This is not an unusual order from a court.  A few years ago, a Cook County, Illinois circuit court ordered Comcast to release information regarding the identity of an anonymous online commenter in connection with a defamation lawsuit filed by a Buffalo Grove Village Trustee.  The test applied in that case was similar to that applied by the New York judge - whether the petitioner has alleged sufficient facts to support a establish a meritorious cause of action and that the information he or she seeks is necessary to the case. 
While anonymous speech is provided some protection under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, that protection is not limitless.  If a plaintiff can establish a meritorious claim for defamation against an anonymous speaker, the speaker's anonymity may be short-lived as courts continue to order internet service providers to uncloak online speakers' identities. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Virtual Manners: Is it Ok to Unfriend, Ignore, Delete, or Untag?

Many in the millennial generation (and probably some Gen-X'ers) may be unfamiliar with the name Emily Post. Baby boomers, on the other hand, grew up with her advice on good manners in any situation. "What would Emily Post do?" was an often-heard response when an individual questioned how he or she should react or communicate in an unfamiliar situation. As old-fashioned as the phrase "good manners" may seem, they are as important today as they were many years ago, and maybe even more so with the increased use of technology for communications.
Even Emily Post (through her family business) recognizes that we communicate, socialize, interact, and conduct our business and social lives differently today because of changes in technology. She has created a social networking presence on her website and social media sites where she Tweets, Facebooks, and blogs about good manners. The website contains a wealth of information on social networking and manners, with the following tagline: "Virtual manners are a must when navigating these networks, however, especially because your interactions may be viewed by others."
One post that is particularly interesting and helpful for business people is titled "Rejecting a Client's "Friend" Request." This is a sticky issue for many who aren't sure how to navigate this issue. So, what would Emily Post do? Her advice is as follows:
Your new client just asked to "friend" you. You prefer not to mix your work and social lives, but you don't want to risk hurting a budding business relationship. Should you turn down her invitation to network?
Yes. It's wise to keep work and play separate. Maintain a profile on a business-oriented site, such as LinkedIn or Biznik, so you can send her a "friend" request. When you do, say, "This is where I stay in touch with work associates. I hope you'll like connecting here."
Emily Post also tells us that it is perfectly acceptable to unfriend, unfollow, or ignore someone that makes you uncomfortable. In her words, it's okay to:
  • Ignore a friend request.
  • Untag yourself from a photo or ask someone to remove a photo of you from their page.
  • Delete a friend’s comment on your page.
  • Unfriend someone whose presence on your page makes you uncomfortable.
  • Ignore quizzes, groups, and widely marketed event requests.
  • Use privacy settings to restrict access to your page
  • Some days it can feel as if our lives have been taken over by social networking, as we all spend more time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and blogs. Every morning, we receive new requests to friend and follow new people and share and like new content. Navigating these requests in a careful and thoughtful way, using "virtual manners," can be difficult, even for the most savvy social networker. In any situation where you question whether you are posting appropriate content or making the right decision in accepting a friend or follow request, ask yourself one question: "What would Emily Post do?" It may save you the trouble of having to unfriend, ignore, delete, or restrict someone or something in the future.

    Friday, July 19, 2013

    City of Chicago Offers Free Social Media Boot Camp For Businesses

    The City of Chicago will host a free Social Media Boot Camp throughout August to help entrepreneurs and business owners maximize social media strategies. The sessions will be held weekly, each Friday morning in August starting at 9:30 a.m. at City Hall.  The free boot camp sessions include the following topics:

    8/2 - Twitter for the Technology Challenged
    “What is Twitter? How do I use it for my business? What is a hashtag? I am so confused!” These are questions and a statement that is probably swirling around in your head. It is OK. You are not alone. Twitter is confusing for even some of the technology advanced. It is more about a mentality, than it is about being technology savvy. Anyone can do it. You just have to understand how it works. In this workshop, you will learn the basics of Twitter, how to use it effectively for your business, and how to get in the press by using it.

    8/9 - How to Use LinkedIn Effectively to Grow Your Business
    Online networking is a very powerful resource that any small business can use to expand their business influence. At this hands-on workshop you will learn how to use LinkedIn to open and customize your personal and business page, as well as many tips and tricks you can use to build a growing strong network. Unleash the power of social media and start enjoying the benefits.

    8/16  - Facebook and Business Do Mix
    Learn how to maximize the tools that Facebook offers to maximize your business needs. Whether you sell a product or provide a service, learn some tricks that can cost effectively give your business positive results.

    8/23 - Your Business Website for Smartphone Users: Optimize it or Create a Business App?
    A majority of business websites look completely different on Smartphones compared to desktop computers – why is this? Learn how to optimize your website for Smartphone users and answer the biggest question, do we need an App? The answer might surprise you.

    8/30 - Increase Your Sales by Using YouTube
    Video is a powerful tool to help you build relationships with prospects and customers and enable them to learn about your company’s solution. Did you know that digital video consumption grew 30% year over year in Q4 2012? Learn about integrating YouTube content into your marketing and selling process. You don’t even have to produce video to use YouTube to grow your business. This workshop will discuss integrating third party content into your internet environment, tips on creating and using simple content, and working with a content creator to position your expertise.

    You can obtain more information about the City's Social Media Boot Camp on the City of Chicago's website.

    Wednesday, July 17, 2013

    ICMA Provides Blogging Tips for City Managers

    Cities and other local governments are discovering the benefits of social media, including blogs. The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) just published an article titled Top Blogging Tips for City Managers |, that provides City Managers with a few tips for getting started in the blogosphere.  The article points out the importance of blogging with a purpose, and among other tips.  The following is a summary of the article's tips, or you can read the entire article on the ICMA's website here.
    1. Know and say why.   Every blog needs a purpose.  A local government blog will serve to inform and educate constituents on matters at hand.  The sooner you publicize your mission statement, the better people will understand your blog and want to follow along.
    2. Create an editorial calendar.  An editorial calendar is vital to scheduling weekly posts and topics to stay organized and on track.  
    3. Utilize guest posts.  Hosting a member of your local government or expert in his or her profession to virtually-appear on your blog to write a guest post provide a different or new perspective about a situation or issue.
    4. Create a spotlight.  Highlight members of your community who are actively making a difference and promote their cause.  In addition to bringing your government issues to the light, this is the perfect time to showcase charitable causes or campaigns that are occurring in your community.  
    5. Involve your youth.  It’s hard to deny that Millennials have a natural understanding of the virtual environment.  Give opportunities to young people to gain experience and use their social networking skills to promote local government.

    Monday, July 15, 2013

    Getting Started: Social Media 101

    Businesses, large and small, are learning that social media marketing and promotion is crucial in today's market, especially with the younger demographic.  But, maybe your business hasn't jumped on the bandwagon yet.  Maybe it relies solely on "tried and true" marketing methods such as print media, business cards, newsletters, and the like.  If your company's reluctance to dip its toes in the social media marketing pool is because it doesn't know where to start, here are a few tips:
    1.  Pick the Right Social Media Platform
    Just because "all" companies are on Facebook doesn't mean that's the right platform for your business.  There is no one-size-fits all approach to selecting the appropriate social media platform or platforms.  If you are just starting out, set aside an hour or so on your calendar to visit three social media sites to see what they offer.  Check out what your competitors are doing, especially those who have been successfully using social media for at least a year or more.  Talk to your peers about their experience on a variety of sites - what works and what doesn't.  Then, sign up for one site, and stick with it for a few months before choosing additional platforms. 
    2.  Adopt a Social Media Policy
    Every business should have a social media policy in place that addresses two issues:  (1) employee usage of social media and (2) the company's social media activities.  You can read more about what should go into a social media policy by revisiting this blog post titled "9 Tips for Drafting an Employee Social Media Policy." 
    3.  Start with LinkedIn
    LinkedIn is a great starting point for professionals and companies to start.  It's a great place for businesses and professionals to network and "connect" with others without a lot of the more personal content encountered on Facebook and Twitter.  It's also easy to set up a LinkedIn profile and start "connecting."  Businesses and professionals can immediately find users to connect with through their email contact lists, and join groups and organizations that broaden their networks. 

    Wednesday, July 10, 2013

    Job Candidates Beware - Hiring Managers Are Checking You Out

    The Employer Handbook blog posted a great story on employer use of social media in screening and hiring decisions.  According to the article, a recent study by found that the number of hiring managers who are reporting that a job candidate's social media indiscretions have cost them a position is up nearly 10%.   The study suggested that hiring managers use social media to get a glimpse at the candidate’s behavior and personality outside of the interview, and are most interested in professional presentation and how the candidate would fit with the company culture.

    As I have reported on this blog before, the negative effect of "oversharing" on social media cannot be overstated.  Think before you post.  You might also "Google" yourself on a regular basis to find out what the internet is saying about you.

    You can read the full blog post here:  The six social media faux pas that may cost you that big job

    Monday, July 8, 2013

    Do You Use Twitter Lists? 6 Simple Steps to Creating Lists

    Twitter lists can be a very useful way to control the stream of information, or tweets, that you receive on your Twitter feed, particularly if you follow a wide variety of people, groups, or organizations.  You can organize Twitter users into lists so you can more easily monitor different networks of friends, organizations, and interests.  Setting up a list allows you to view only the stream of Tweets from people included in that list.  For example, you could create a list called "News" and that would allow you to quickly review any Tweets from news organizations you might follow without having to scroll through your entire feed.  You don't even need to follow a person or organization to add them to a list.

    Lists are easy to create, and it is even easier to add users.

    Step 1:  Click on the "me" icon on the top of your Twitter home page.

    Step 2: Select "Lists" in the box in the upper left hand corner.

    Step 3:  Select "Create list."

    Step 4:  A new window will open.  You can enter the name of your list, a description (optional), and indicate whether the list is public (anyone on Twitter can follow the list) or private (only you can access the list).

    Step 5:  To add a Twitter user to a list, select a user, then select the downward arrow on the icon on the right.  Select "add or remove from lists" from the pull-down menu.

    Step 6:  You can then add a person to a list by selecting the empty box next to the desired list.  A checkmark will appear in the box.  Then, close the window to save. 

    Wednesday, July 3, 2013

    8 Tips for Using Twitter More Effectively

    Twitter can be a great addition to your social media marketing program.  The primary benefit of Twitter is that it allows users to easily share information about themselves and their business without the time-management and third party content concerns often associated with some other social media sites such as Facebook.  However, like any other marketing program, Twitter is only effective if you are an active participant.  The following are 8 tips for active Twitter use:

    1.  To maintain or establish an audience of loyal followers, you should tweet frequently.  A Twitter account associated with a business or company without frequent tweets may create the image that the business is not active.  This activity can include retweets of other Twitter users' tweets that might be relevant to your own followers. 
    2.  You should seek out and follow other Twitter accounts in your industry.  This can generate increased awareness of your Twitter account, particularly when those industries have an established Twitter base of followers with shared interests.
    3.  You should also seek out and follow Twitter accounts owned by current clients or customers.  These users can be your best supporters by retweeting your tweets to other users, who may then follow you on Twitter.
    4.  You should upload your business logo for your company Twitter account, rather than use the picture of one of your employees, to increase your profile and brand on social media. 
    5.  You should consider customizing your Twitter background/theme to reflect your business or company. 
    6.  You should place a link to your Twitter account on your website, blog, and other online sites to increase cross-traffic between your social media sites.  You might also include links to Twitter and your other social media accounts in your e-mail signature.
    7.  You should designate one employee to tweet on behalf of the company or to oversee and review other employees' tweets before they are sent out, to ensure that the company message is being accurately and appropriately presented. 
    8.  Don't forget to insert a written profile of your company in the "bio" secction of your account profile, with links to your company website and any required industry disclaimers.

    Tuesday, July 2, 2013

    Trial Lawyers Should Study Up On Social Media - Lessons from the Zimmerman Trial

    The Employer Handbook blog posted an interesting video from the Zimmerman trial where a witness is questioned about her Twitter account, and why she "follows" George Zimmerman's brother.  This video provides a good lesson for lawyers who should study up on social media, including proper social media terminology or "jargon", before making it an issue in their case at trial.

    Check out the video at the following link:  George Zimmerman trial lessons: How not to use social media


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