Posts Tagged ‘Social media’

“Kristina Sherry on “What Happens to Our Facebook Accounts When We Die?”

March 14, 2013

How Facebook deals with death (via The Media Online)

Kristina Sherry (J.D. Candidate, Pepperdine University) has published “What Happens to Our Facebook Accounts When We Die?: Probate versus Policy and the Fate of Social-Media Assets Postmortem”, Pepperdine Law Review, Vol. 40, No. 1, 2013. The abstract reads:

More than 580,000 Facebook users in the U.S. will die this year, raising numerous legal questions as to the disposition of their Facebook pages and similar “digital assets” left in a state of legal limbo. While access to and ownership of decedents’ email accounts has been philosophized for nearly a decade, this comment focuses on the additional legal uncertainties posed by “digital death” in the more amorphous realm of “social media.” Part II explores the implications of digital death by conceptualizing digital assets and surveying the underlying legal principles of contractual policies, probate, property, and privacy concerns. Part III surveys current law surrounding digital death, emphasizing a 2010 Oklahoma statute granting executors and administrators power over decedents’ “social networking” accounts. Parts III and IV consider what the current state of the law means for individuals facing death (i.e. everyone) as social media interacts with both (1) probate law and (2) social-media services’ policies as reflected in their terms of service. Part V explores how the law and proposed solutions may address the salient policy goals of honoring decedents’ postmortem wishes while meanwhile respecting privacy; preserving digital assets; and minimizing probate, litigation and other paperwork-type hassles. Ultimately this comment suggests while state or even federal legislation may call attention to the importance of digital estate planning, a better solution likely lies between the two extremes of the probate-versus-policy power struggle, and that social-media services themselves may be in the better position to quell the perfect storm of legal uncertainty that looms.

Download a pdf copy of the article at SSRN here.

Matthew Lafferman, “Do Facebook and Twitter Make You a Public Figure?: How to Apply the Gertz Public Figure Doctrine to Social Media”

March 13, 2013

Matthew Lafferman (JD Candidate, George Mason University – School of Law) has published “Do Facebook and Twitter Make You a Public Figure?: How to Apply the Gertz Public Figure Doctrine to Social Media”,  Santa Clara Computer and High Technology Law Journal, Vol. 29, No. 1, 2012. Here’s the abstract:

In Gertz v. Welch, the Supreme Court expanded First Amendment protections to defamation law by requiring a plaintiff who qualified as a public figure to prove a higher burden of proof to recover for damages under a defamation suit. The Court relied on two major rationales to delineate the Gertz doctrine: public figures “voluntarily exposed themselves to increased risk of injury” and had “significantly greater access to the channels of effective communication.” Applying this doctrine to online media poses challenges, specifically when applied to social media platforms. Many scholars have recognized that social media users have equal access to the same basic media features, rendering the Gertz Court’s access-to the-media rationale inapplicable when applied to social media. A 216% rise in defamation suits against Internet users in the last three years alone, due to the recent discovery that most homeowner’s insurance policies cover libel liability, signals an almost inevitable rise in defamation suits that will eventually force courts to face the challenge of applying the Gertz public figure doctrine to social media.

This Comment offers an approach that reconciles the problems of applying the public figure doctrine to social media. This Comment argues that courts should require defendants to overcome certain initial presumptions by clear and convincing evidence before designating a social media user an involuntary public figure or a general public figure. Moreover, when recommending an approach for courts to identify voluntary activity on a social network for limited-purpose public figures, courts should avoid defining mere access to social media as voluntary activity and instead conclude such access is an extension of an individual’s private life. This approach would allow courts to apply much of the currently existing public figure doctrine to social media and help courts avoid the negative legal and policy consequences of abolishing the doctrine altogether.

A pdf copy of the paper is available for download at SSRN here.

Kelly Lynn Anders, “Ethical Exits: When Lawyers and Judges Must Sever Ties on Social Media”

March 13, 2013

Kelly Lynn Anders has published “Ethical Exits: When Lawyers and Judges Must Sever Ties on Social Media”, Charleston Law Review, Vol. 7, No. 2, Winter 2012-2013.  The abstract reads:

This article addresses the very recent trend of requiring lawyers and judges to sever ties on social media, the professional implications of doing so, relevant rules governing judicial and attorney conduct, and a discussion of “best practices” for lawyers and judges to follow when social media connections must be broken. Recent opinions from states that have issued social media directives in this area will also be discussed, along with a brief overview of three of the most commonly used social media sites at the time of the publication of this article – Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Through this discussion and analysis, one theme will continue to resurface – the increasingly pressing need for guidance and clarity in the MRPC and MRJC so that expectations involving social media connections will be clear, uniform, and much easier to manage for lawyers, judges, and anyone with whom they may communicate, either professionally or personally. Such clear-cut guidance would also decrease the need for severing ties that should not have been formed in the first place, thereby also serving to contribute to the preservation of solid and favorable reputations of all jurists and counselors in an increasingly virtual world.

Download a pdf copy of the article via SSRN here.

Elizabeth F. Judge, “Curious Judge: Judicial Notice of Facts, Independent Judicial Research, and the Impact of the Internet”

January 10, 2013

Elizabeth F. Judge (University of Ottawa – Faculty of Law (Common Law)) has posted “Curious Judge: Judicial Notice of Facts, Independent Judicial Research, and the Impact of the Internet”, Annual Review of Civil Litigation, pp. 325-350, Honourable Mr. Justice Todd L. Archibald Superior Court of Justice (Ontario) and the Late Honourable Mr. Justice Randall Scott Echlin, eds., 2012. The abstract reads:

Judicial notice allows uncontroversial facts to be established without evidentiary proof. The facts must either themselves be beyond dispute because they are “notorious” (that is, generally known within the community) or they must be able to be referenced in easily accessed sources whose accuracy is beyond dispute. Judicial notice is an especially vexing topic because it goes to the heart of the epistemological inquiry of the adversarial process and the nature of the judicial function. Judicial notice implicates the allocation of responsibilities for fact finding between the parties and the court, between the judge and the jury, between the court of first instance and the appellate bodies, and between the courts and the legislature; how fact finders engage in ordinary reasoning processes to decide what a fact is; the distinction between adjudicative and legislative facts and their respective roles; and due process concerns for one or both parties. The rules governing judicially noticed facts are especially sensitive because whenever a fact is judicially noticed it is not subject to the ordinary processes for testing evidence, such as oaths and cross examination, and thus the rules implicate concerns about fairness to the parties and accuracy. For a common law precedential system, these concerns are particularly acute.

Drawing on American and Commonwealth commentators, this article provides a detailed analysis of the general theory and policy of judicial notice and the role of judicial notice in the adversarial system. The article then turns to a discussion of the practice of independent judicial research and an examination of the impact of the internet on judicial notice. The article analyses the laws and policies governing judicial notice of facts and independent judicial research in Canada and the Supreme Court of Canada’s legal framework. It examines independent judicial research and, most pertinently for modern practices of judicial notice, appropriate uses of internet search tools and online sources in the context of judicial notice. It considers how the internet is affecting key aspects pertaining to the judicial notice of facts: first, what “notoriety” and “community” mean; and second, what counts as an authoritative reference. The paper concludes by addressing how the internet, including search engines and online content, may affect the traditional framework for judicial notice of facts.

A copy of the paper is available for download via SSRN here.

Oh Nikita! You’ll Never Know.

October 10, 2012

My pal, Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice, a denizen of free social media perks from Klout, doesn’t much care for guest blogging spam. Recently, I had the following exchange of twits with Scott (yes, this is the correct noun usage, get used to it): (more…)


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