VMO Social Computing Checklist- Part III

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Lawsuits involving blogs are heating up. The social computing space is a fertile ground for legal actions because blogging is rife with opinions about companies and individuals. If untrue, those statements jump the line of opinion, and land square in the realm of libel or other actionable causes.

In 2005, Apple Computer Inc. sued a Harvard student in a California court, accusing him of publishing trade secrets on his blog, ThinkSecret.com, in violation of state law. That case was settled three years later and thinksecret.com was shut down.

I like to comment on other people’s blogs and on news and review sites. I often learn more about a topic from the comments than the original post. And, that is often the blogger’s intent. Start the conversation and watch it grow.

But, I’ve seen high profile blogs get hit with some ugly comments. I don’t mean disagreeable comments, I mean down right hateful and destructive stuff –don’t people have better things to do with their time?


Anonymous idiots making unnecessary noise spoil the conversation. Yet, in one example, the High Court of the U.K. ruled that if the blog owner does not take action to remove adverse comments they do not have any recourse.

The High Court ruled that a man who was criticized in the comments section of his own blog couldn’t sue for defamation because he did not delete the comment when he discovered it — implying that the man consented to the comment’s publication.

With that, here are last 6 things to check off your list.

19. Where the blogger has identified his or her association with the firm, assign a knowledgeable and accessible editor to proof blog posts for content, making sure that the editor will act in a timely fashion.

20.   Require bloggers to set comment settings to allow for approval before they become public.

21.    Monitor each social network’s corporate blog (e.g. http:// blog.Facebook.com) for news about network issues and updates. Terms of Usage can change with out notice.

22.    Instruct lawyers set up an iGoogle home page to aggregate content from RSS feeds, blogs, and news services –it’s a time saver for them. Encourage them to set their own Google Alerts.

23.    Interested lawyers may benefit from social computing business development coaching.  It’s not about the tools; it’s about how the tools are used.

24.   Don’t forget to set up a tracking system to capture new business leads generated from using social computing tools.

25. Start working on #3 now.

3.  Coordinate with risk management department and current Internet Usage Policy to institute a comprehensive social computing policy that addresses appropriate behavior, attorney ethics, and legal liabilities.

So, that’s my list. This just brushes the surface, but should get you moving in the right direction.

If you can add to the list, please comment!

Coming soon -the digital footprint and reputation management.

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