Posts Tagged ‘Social Networking’

A Social Networking Lesson for Parents: Think twice before you hit ‘send’!

June 2, 2010

It’s amazing how people continue to find new ways to get into trouble with social networking.

Photo by Davin Lesnick

Just a few years ago, a parent might get into trouble with his or her teenager by reading the teenager’s diary. Such domestic misdeeds seem almost quaint by comparison to what some parents are now doing on the Internet.

As reported by the ABA Journal and others, a mother in Arkansas has been convicted of harassing her own teenage son via the popular social networking site Facebook. While the mother and her teenage son had an admittedly difficult relationship before this (the teenager had lived with his grandmother for years), the teen never suspected that his mother would go to such lengths in her ongoing battle with him.

Denise New logged onto her son’s personal Facebook account after the teenager apparently left his account open on his computer. Perhaps many parents can appreciate the temptation of peering into their children’s online activities given such an opportunity. This mother, however, was not motivated by concern over her son’s well-being or even simple curiosity. Instead, Ms. New intended to post phony messages on his site purporting to come from him. For example, after the two got into a physical altercation and the police got involved, the mother posted a message on her son’s Facebook account (again pretending she was her son) essentially bragging that he had intentionally started the fight and called the police on his mother. Cell phone messages played in court corroborated that the mother was posting such phony messages. In other messages left on his site, the mother expressed regret at ever having a child and repeatedly used foul language. Putting all of this together, the court found that this conduct constituted harassment of the teenager. The mother was sentenced to 30 days in jail (suspended) along with probation and parenting classes.

As a reminder to all of us in this new world of social networking, the trial judge offered some sage advice:

“We live in a world now where what used to be said between two people or in a parking lot, now you hit a button and hundreds, maybe millions, of people can hear what you do,” he said. “It makes it maybe even more important for a person to think before they act because the amplification can be tremendous.” (Source: Arkansas Online)

Like it or not, we all now have the ability to broadcast information — even highly personal information — to the world.  Apparently, some of us are still struggling with deciding what information should be broadcast and what should be kept to ourselves.

Advertisements

Lawyer-ing and Social Networking: What Did I Get Myself Into?

April 8, 2010

Months ago, when I was trying to decide how to increase traffic to our website, I decided that maybe the answer was in this new phenomenon called social networking.  Having no idea what this was (I’m 63 but  a relatively competent end-user), I did my due diligence on Google.  Tweets, blogs, postings, followers, friends, Fans…. what was all this about? I was soon to find out.      

Since I didn’t yet have a Facebook or Twitter account (what was I thinking!), blogging seemed to be the answer.  WordPress is free – I was told.  That was my cup of tea.  Free software and access to the world so new clients could beat down my door. Where did that go wrong?  As it turned out, I had my annual vacation coming up shortly so I stocked up on ‘…for Dummies’ books and off I went ready to take on the social networking planet.

Here I am less than  four months later:  335 tweets, 263 followers, a personal Facebook account with a business page, 125 blog postings, a LinkedIn account and Lord knows what else!  I’ve got my Tweetdeck working, I scour LinkedIn for new groups and connections, I check to see my new followers on Twitter, my new Fans on Facebook and on and on.  Who knew that Twello would provide me a seemingly endless source of people and organizations to follow (and hope for a return ‘follow’)?

Keywords, SEO, viral networking and a host of other in-words are now part of my daily lexicon. Google Reader is part of my morning ritual – searching for new topics to share with my new Fans, friends, followers, connections – oh my!

So what has this all meant? – not sure quite yet.  I actually have connected with some pretty interesting folks out there – no, not the follower who invited me to her dating service.  My wife didn’t think highly of that ‘follow.’  Even though I’ve been intimately involved in medical malpractice for a long time – defense and plaintiff (yeah – you read that right!), forcing myself to stay current for new blog topics and to say ‘What’s Happening’ on Twitter has been, I admit, a good practice.  I just wonder when I’m going to become the hottest medical malpractice social networker so that I wind-up on everyone’s blogroll and get retweeted about a dozen times a day.

Here’s the problem – I DO practice real law.  I won’t bore you with the details of my professional life – read the About pages on our site if you really want to do so.  Juggling being ‘relevant’ and being a real lawyer has its many moments.  So what did I do to find some time to go to court, meet clients, do discovery – you know – lawyer stuff?  I enlisted lawyers in my firm to share the burden.  (That’s the good part about being the boss.)  Now they blog too and I get to read their draft posts, modify them, approve them, insert links and pictures – UGH – did I really cut-down my time?  In case they read this blog – thanks, Gang.  Just make sure your links are correct and your topics are ‘niche-meaningful.’

So why am I writing this?  Who knows – needed a break from tweeting, I guess.  No, not really.  As I was perusing about 30 newspapers, journals and what-not this morning, I wondered if I’m the only one out here in the blogosphere who feels this way – buried, intrigued, mystified and about 100 other adjectives to describe my new social networking life.  

I think I’ll just become a ‘work-at-home’ entrepreneur – I had about 40 of them try to follow me on Twitter.  Nah – why give up my real passion – practicing real law.  What I do intend to do is use an occasional blog to share with my legal pals in the social networking world some ‘tips’ from time to time.  Everyone else seems to have the “Ten Best Tips” – why not me?  Maybe Tip #1 should be – make sure you have an extra 5 hours minimum a day if you want to get into this world of internet marketing for lawyers. I could write a book “Legal Social Networking for Dummies” – since there have been (and likely will be) many days where I’ve felt like the biggest dummy of them all.

Enough for now.  Some client probably wants legal advice.  What are THEY thinking?  I’ve got to check Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn first.  “Who’s on the phone?  My webmaster wants updates on what?”

Sorry… have to go…but I will be back…

No more ‘tweeting’ in Baltimore Circuit Court – The Baltimore Sun

February 10, 2010

I just read this on my TweetDeck and couldn’t get to my keyboard fast enough.  Twitter crackdown in Baltimore Circuit Court -Baltimoresun.com.  Social networking is banned from one of our local courthouses.  What gave rise to this ‘order’?  Answer:  former Mayor Dixon’s recent criminal trial and some juror conduct discovered in its aftermath.

Rather than recount the words of the Sun’s writer, let me quote some well put thoughts on this new edict:

  • The starting point for any conversation about what restrictions judges may place on courtroom behavior must be that our criminal justice system is predicated on the notion of openness.
  • [T]his order extends the scope of the restrictions from the courtroom to the entire courthouse, and at that point, any justification for them ends. It is impossible to imagine a situation in which posting information on Twitter from the hallway outside of a courtroom would be in the least bit disruptive, or that forcing someone to walk outside the courthouse before tweeting would do anything to enhance security.
  • The absurdity of the court’s order is underscored by the impossibility of enforcing it. Rather than tweeting from the hallway, a court observer could simply call someone outside and have him or her post the same information on a social networking site. The order doesn’t stop someone from posting information directly onto a blog, or a television or radio reporter from calling the station and providing updates from the hallway live on the air.

While President Obama and his administration are working hard for transparency and openness in the government, the Circuit Court for Baltimore City has taken a step backward in the twenty-first century.  Is making  ‘tweeting’ from the hallway in the courthouse more difficult really going to put a damper on the ever-growing function of social networking?  No – it may be a bit more cumbersome, but tweets, blogs and postings will continue to fill the internet airwaves.