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Social Media and the Law

Richard Best Andrew Scott-Howman
Richard Best
Richard Best Law
Andrew Scott-Howman

This book is only available in PDF format

Published: 2 April, 2012
Pages: 85


Social media is changing our world. A grandiose opening statement, perhaps, but it’s true. It’s supplementing and in many cases changing the way we interact with friends, colleagues, customers, businesses, citizens and constituents.

The massive growth in social media makes it inevitable that it will, in some shape or form, touch the daily lives of our clients and of our own practices and businesses. It may do so:
  • for business reasons: we or our clients may deploy social media strategies to better reach and obtain feedback from customers;

  • for employment reasons: organisations may use it to search for information on job applicants, it may affect them when employees have a go at them online or they may even monitor employees' public online activities;

  • for reasons of public participation: government agencies may use it to increase consultation with citizens, obtain expert input on policy development and generally bolster participatory decision-making; and

  • for adverse reasons: anonymous bloggers and other online belligerents may use it to defame, to infringe, to harass, to divulge, to commit contempt, to injure or, in some cases, to hate.

The law has a role to play in all these areas. In this paper we canvas some of the common respects in which social media and the law intersect. For the most part, it’s a matter of applying established law to a mixture of known and evolving circumstances. On some issues, the New Zealand courts are yet to speak definitively or we are faced with statutory provisions of uncertain ambit. Whatever the case, it's a fascinating place for lawyers to be.

Content outline

  • Social media - what is it?
  • Your and your clients' use of social media for business purposes
  • Use of social media by your employees and your clients' employees
  • Use of social media by third parties against you or your clients
  • Potential reform

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