Social Media Issue
We live in an interesting time when privacy rights are championed alongside an unprecedented voluntary willingness of people to share their most intimate and superfluous life details with the world, even in places such as our website. While apparently benign on the surface, the dangers of unrestrained public disclosure of sensitive information is beginning to surface.
Key social media players are being sued for unauthorized or abusive use/misuse of personal information. Failure to protect and warn are likely going to be focal factors. Lawsuits are filed seeking damages for statements held to be responsible for people’s death or suicide. Bloggers presuming to operate under an unfettered freedom of speech or greater latitude offered to members of the press are losing civil cases for defamation, slander, libel, and so on.
As social media rapidly advances to allow more technologically sophisticated and easy dissemination, the simultaneous fallout of revelation without boundaries is mounting. Thus, a sober approach to the benefits of social media, while sidestepping the perils of imprudent disclosure, can facilitate an enjoyable online experience, without the consequences of excess, in settings such as our own website.
Presence/Scope of Social Media
You should assume that social media is in use on our website. A simple click of a button to endorse a person, product, or service is building a cumulative profile about you, which you should always assume can be discovered by others. Attempting to share a website with someone, whether by direct press of a button or else by email forwarding facilitated on a website, you should assume that this may not stop with the intended recipient, and that this can generate information about you that could be seen by a veritable infinite number of people. Such a domino effect could initiate right here on our website.
Something as simple as a blog comment provides the opportunity for knee-jerk reactions that can become public and may not truly represent a position (at least in strength or severity) that you might hold after a period of more reasoned contemplation. You should also note that the ease of accessing one site through the login credentials of another, or the use of a global login for access to multiple sites can accumulate a dossier on you and your online behavior that may reveal more information to unintended parties than you might realize or want. Any or all of these features could exist on our website at one time or another.
These few examples illustrate some possible ways that social media can exist, though it is not an exhaustive list and new technologies will render this list outdated quickly. The objective is to realize the reach of social media, its widespread presence on websites in various forms (including this website), and develop a responsible approach to using it.
You should recognize the fact that divulgences made in and on social media platforms on this website and others are rarely constrained just to you. Disclosures are commonly made about group matters that necessarily affect and impact other people. Other disclosures are expressly about third parties, sometimes with little discretion. What can appear funny in one moment can be tragic in the next. And a subtle “public” retaliation can have lifetime repercussions.
Ideal use of social media on our website would confine your disclosures primarily to matters pertaining to you, not others. If in doubt, it’s best to err on the side of non-disclosure. It’s doubtful the disclosure is so meaningful that it cannot be offset by the precaution of acting to protect the best interests of someone who is involuntarily being exposed by your decision to disclose something on our website (or another).
You should likewise pause to consider the long-term effects of a split-second decision to publicly share private information about yourself on our website. Opinions, likes, dislikes, preferences, and otherwise can change. Openly divulging perspectives that you hold today, may conflict with your developing views into the futures. Yet, the “new you” will always stand juxtaposed against the prior declarations you made that are now concretized as part of your public profile. While the contents of your breakfast may hold little long-term impact, other data likewise readily shared can have consequences that could conceivably impact your ability to obtain certain employment or hinder other life experiences and ambitions.
As with sharing information about other people, extreme caution should be used before revealing information about yourself. If in doubt, it’s likely best not to do it. The short term gain, if any, could readily be outweighed by later consequences. Finally, you should note that we are not responsible for removing content once shared, and we may not be able to do so.
Restrictions on Use of Social Media Data
You, as a visitor to our website, are not permitted to “mine” social media or other platforms contained herein for personal information related to others. Even where people have publicly displayed data, you should not construe that as though you have the liberty to capture, reproduce, or reuse that information. Any use of social media or related platforms on our website are for interactive use only, relevant only during the website visit.
Accuracy of Social Media Data
As any social media platform is built on user-generated content, you should consider this fact in seeking to determine the authenticity of anything you read. We are not responsible for verifying any user-generated content for accuracy. A best practices policy would be to view all such content as strictly opinion, not fact.
Potential Issues of Liability
You should also be mindful of the fact that your words could trigger liability for harm caused to others. While you have the right to free speech, you do not have the right to damage other people. Under basic principles of tort law, you are always responsible, personally, for situations where either:
1. you were required to act, but did not (i.e. – some “duty of care”)
2. your were required to refrain from acting, but did not (i.e. – slander, defamation, etc.)
These “sins of omission and commission” could cause problems for you, irrespective of whether you assert you are conducting business under the guise of one or more business entities. Illegal and unethical conduct, when done in the name of a corporation or LLC, is still illegal and unethical conduct. As it is rarely part of a business plan to engage in illegal and unethical conduct, you are doubtfully operating in any official capacity, but rather, perhaps, leveraging that capacity to effectuate personal wrongdoing. You should consult a licensed attorney if you wish legal advice as to the (potential) ramification of your situation or legal problems stemming from this website or another.
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