• Court spanks parents. In a landmark decision, the Georgia Court of Appeals ruled in Boston v. Athearn that parents can be held responsible for the social media activities of their kids. The case involved a seventh-grade boy who, with assistance from a friend, created a fake Facebook profile for a female classmate; then, pretending to be the classmate, the boy made a series of offensive and outrageous posts, some of which falsely claimed that the classmate suffered from mental illness and took illegal drugs. Following complaints from the victim’s parents, the school suspended the boy for several days, and his parents grounded him for a week; the fake profile, however, remained on Facebook for eleven months. The victim, through her parents, ultimately sued the boy and his parents and the Georgia Court of Appeals, reversing a lower court decision to the contrary, determined that a reasonable jury could find that the boy’s parents, after learning of their son’s behavior, failed to exercise due care from that point onward by allowing the fake profile to remain on Facebook, and that such negligence proximately caused some portion of the injury sustained by the girl. With the growth of cyberbullying, and in the wake of the Boston decision, will we see more suits seeking to hold parents liable for their kids’ online misconduct?
  • The oversharing economy. An Uber driver in Albuquerque, New Mexico had his driver account for the company cancelled because of what Uber called “hateful statements regarding Uber through Social Media.” Turns out that he had posted a tweet linking to an article about robberies of Uber drivers, and had included the following observation: “Driving for Uber, not much safer than driving a taxi.” The driver, Christopher Ortiz, said he was just sharing a story that was going around. Uber quickly agreed that he had done no real harm and reinstated him with an apology, calling the original decision “an error.” After all, Ortiz had a high rating from customers (4.8 out of a possible 5), and Uber’s own position is that drivers associated with the company are independent contractors, not company employees.
  • What’s not to like? Copyblogger, a highly successful social media and online marketing company, has decided to ditch its Facebook presence – even though it had 38,000 fans for its Facebook page. After a good deal of thought, the company concluded that “Copyblogger’s presence on Facebook has not been beneficial for the brand or its audience.” In a detailed essay, brand marketing consultant Erika Napoletano, whom Copyblogger had brought in for the purpose of improving its Facebook presence, explained the perhaps surprising decision. One of the main reasons: the 38,000 fans didn’t really interact with the page. “The page had an overwhelming number of junk fans. These are accounts with little to no personal status update activity that just go around “Liking” Facebook pages. They’re essentially accounts tied to “click farms”—ones paid pennies for every Facebook page they Like,” Napoletano wrote. For this reason and several others, Copyblogger decided that, going forward, it would be “on the Web, just not on Facebook.”