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Business Talks: Social Media (Part 1)

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There is a lot that is yet to be discussed when it comes to social media usage, data, privacy and legal implications stemming from and directly relate to the aforementioned. The internet has increasingly become the primary means by which individuals, groups and companies have been communicating, interacting and sharing in the last three decades. While this leads to numerous opportunities that can be positively used to the fullest of their potential, it also exposes numerous risks that come with data and privacy protection, the general understanding of these concepts and how the law works to protect and uphold these decisions.

In the article, “Social Media and the Law – 5 Things You Need to Know”, five main points were examined as it relates to how social media and the law work together: online competitions and promotions, reviews placed on various websites, endorsements done by social media personnel, photography and copyright issues, and employee’s rights as it relates to being investigated by employers in the light of possible employment. The latter three points may tend to command more attention as being more prevalent issues. There have been steps taken to ensure that endorsements on social media are honest and not misleading to the public. Crediting photographers and seeking permission to use their material is a common copyright issue that companies such as Pinterest have taken a stand on, even revoking a user’s right to post on the site if they are found to be guilty of too many accusations of copyright infringement. In the sphere of employment, there have also been numerous debates, lawsuits and settlements based on whether or not content posted by an employee in their own personal space and time should be levied against them and used to judge their competence in the working capacity.

Social media has grown in use, features, resources and availability over the past few years and along with it has evolved legal jurisdiction that seeks to limit and control the damage that can be caused by immoral and unethical use of these sites. A comparison can be made between the United States and the European Union, for better comprehension. The European Union passed the General Data Protection Regulation on May 25, 2018. THE GDPR covers most of Europe and serves to protect information being processed in all European countries, while giving individual countries the right to draft legislation with their own small changes. The system is mutually agreed on by various bodies, and more importantly, there are eight rights for individuals that include “allowing people to have easier access to the data companies hold about them, a new fines regime and a clear responsibility for organizations to obtain the consent of people they collect information about”.

On the other hand, FindLaw.com states that there are no fully-comprehensive laws governing data protection in the United States; instead, there are a number of federal laws that have been enacted across various states to help fill these gaps. Examples of these are laws that require security measures to be used; punish criminals for cybercrimes like hacking and phishing; require that a notification of breach of data security be given as the earliest possible time; and even laws that make revenge porn a criminal offence.

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