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Legal Protections Extend to Social Networking Site Features

By on Wednesday, September 1, 2010

We PR people often have to protect our clients from, ahem, themselves. And social media sites offer plenty of opportunity for clients to do a great job promoting themselves and the companies and organizations they work with and support. Unfortunately, they also open up an abyss of trouble.

Recently, as part of a copyright infringement case, a federal court ruled that comments and messages to a restricted set of users on a social networking site are protected from discovery, reports the National Law Journal.

According to the writers:

The ruling could permanently change the way “social networking” sites are viewed by businesses and those involved in litigation. The decision also appears to offer the first in-depth analysis on the effect of “privacy settings” found on many social networking sites and whether information is protected from discovery by federal privacy laws.

One of the biggest things about the decision – privacy settings matter – the court ruled that private messaging features on social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace, are private communications, similar to email messages. It also ruled that wall posts on Facebook and MySpace to only a restricted number of people, are protected.

For more information about the case, look up Crispin v. Christian Audigier Inc., 2010 U.S. Dist. Lexis 52832 (C.D. Calif. May 26, 2010).

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