Saturday’s New York Times has a thought-provoking article on attorney’s and social media and the dangers of opening up too much.
Sean Conway was steamed at a Fort Lauderdale judge, so he did what millions of angry people do these days: he blogged about her, saying she was an “Evil, Unfair Witch.”
But Mr. Conway is a lawyer. And unlike millions of other online hotheads, he found himself hauled up before the Florida bar, which in April issued a reprimand and a fine for his intemperate blog post.
The type of comments made by Conway were not isolated, as the article reveals, and this is an issue that isn’t going away any time soon.
And with thousands of blogs and so many lawyers online, legal ethics experts say that collisions between the freewheeling ways of the Internet and the tight boundaries of legal discourse are inevitable — whether they result in damaged careers or simply raise eyebrows.
Stephen Gillers, an expert on legal ethics at New York University Law School, sees many more missteps in the future, as young people who grew up with Facebook and other social media enter a profession governed by centuries of legal tradition.
Source: Marquette University Law School Faculty Blog
“Defense attorneys do their clients a disservice by not at least checking with them to see if they maintain a Web page used for social networking, in addition to the standard methods of digging up dirt.” So says defense attorney William R. Gallagher in a recent Wisconsin Law Journal article on using social networking tools to investigate clients, witnesses and jurors.
Whether that “truth” comes in the form of a text message on a cell phone or a posted photo on MySpace, Gallagher said attorneys can take advantage of personal information that is often displayed publicly.
“Shortly after events a lot of times people, who believe they are in their own private world, will write down or say what is the truth,” added Gallagher….
[Public Defender Katherine J.] Dorl said that clients or witnesses often appear to be more open with their conversations on a social site, rather than in a courtroom setting.
At the same time, many do not realize their posted pictures or comments are not one-on-one, but more like one-on-one million….
Even if a Facebook profile doesn’t offer any valuable case information, it could at least give an attorney some insight into his client’s world.
“People are willing to put so much out there, and it’s stuff that people my age don’t share with the world,” said Dorl. “It’s amazing, but not necessarily in a good way.”
Jane Pribek of the Wisconsin Law Journal has put together a nice article on the benefits of social networking for attorneys, including some success stories from local attorneys using LinkedIn.
From the article:
Just a few months ago, Michelle M. Friedman recommended all attorneys at her Milwaukee firm, Davis & Kuelthau s.c., join LinkedIn, a popular online social networking Web site for professionals from various disciplines. To date, about 70 percent of them have taken that advice, with positive results…
Among the D&K lawyers who took her advice was a partner who was skeptical at first. But, he later told her that, in response to two of his e-mails asking clients to connect, not only did they accept his invitation, but also, they contacted him, saying, “I’ve been meaning to get in touch with you about…”
Two new matters landed on his plate, with very little effort on his part..
The UW Madison Daily Cardinal reports on a new website which pays students for note-taking.
Knetwit, the creation of former Babson College fraternity brothers Ben Wald and Tyler Jenks, encourages college students to upload and share study materials for money….
According to the website, Knetwit allows college students and teachers around the world to share notes, ideas, issues and other content from their education….
“It is similar to Facebook, only it has an academic twist to it. It has the whole networking aspect where people can contact one another.”…
The website encourages students to participate in note-taking by offering to pay those who post their notes.
Knetwit pays students based on the number of file downloads they receive. Each student’s profile contains a User Statistics section, allowing other members to view the downloaded file levels.
“If you could contact a librarian via Facebook or MySpace for help with your research, would you? If not, why?”
That was the question asked of 300+ college students in a recent University of Michigan Library survey. See the results on the right.
According to Suzanne Chapman at UM:
The main impetus for this question comes from a current trend for libraries to create Facebook apps that allow OPAC searching and other library related functionality from within Facebook. There has also been a lot of discussion and experimentation with using Facebook for reference and outreach.
Thanks to Leah Ujda over at the UW Digital Collections Center for forwarding this to me. We’d just been discussing this question last week at our semi-annual UW Madison Libraries Reference Retreat. Good to have some data to consult.
YouTube is developing a Video Identification system which will help copyright holders identify their works on YouTube.
From the about page:
We have worked with Google to develop one-of-a-kind technology that can recognize videos based on a variety of factors… Copyright holders can choose what they want done with their videos: whether to block, promote, or even–if a copyright holder chooses to partner with us–create revenue from them, with minimal friction. YouTube Video ID will help carry out that choice.
“The older demographic has a bunch of interesting characteristics, not the least of which is that they hang around.”
This prospective and relative stickiness is helping drive a wave of new investment into boomer and older-oriented social networking sites that offer like-minded (and like-aged) individuals discussion and dating forums, photo-sharing, news and commentary, and chatter about diet, fitness and health care.
That’s a quote from a New York Times article examining the use of social networking applications for older Web users.
The sites have names like Eons, Rezoom, Multiply, Maya’s Mom, Boomj, and Boomertown. They look like Facebook — with wrinkles.
“Many political pundits have said the 2008 presidential race will be the election of YouTube,” says JS Online. “Local lawmakers are picking up on that trend…”
The article explores how Wisconsin’s legislators are using video to communicate directly with the public via the web. Note the use of WisconsinEye.
According to the article:
State lawmakers are making a push for greater visibility on the Web by bringing their messages right to constituents’ computers… Lawmakers find that the technology gives them an unfiltered connection to their constituents.
A recent e-mail newsletter from Rep. Mark Gundrum (R-New Berlin) featured a link to WisconsinEye video of a meeting his Committee on Judiciary and Ethics had with members of the state Supreme Court. “There’s no way the public would really know about something like that or hear about issues of importance to the court otherwise,” Gundrum said. “If there’s something that I think is of interest, it’s a great thing to make that stuff as accessible as possible.”
In the category of dumb criminals, JS Online has an article about people bragging about their crimes on MySpace – complete with photos. Of course, it doesn’t take long before the police come knocking at their doors.