Legal Dilemmas of Social Networking, Part 1


I recently attended the day-long conference entitled Social Networking: Friends or Foes? (now on MP3) hosted by the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic, the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, the Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice and the UC Berkeley School of Law. The discussion focused on the legal and ethical issues facing lawyers and investigators using social networking contents in legal matters. (For a concise summary of the conference, see Social Networking - Legal and Ethical Issues for Lawyers and Investigators). Unlike other conferences, more questions were raised than could be answered. This was no reflection on the presenters. It reflected the fact that legal issues involving privacy and the gathering and use of social networking content as evidence are evolving much more quickly than legal answers can be found.

Four significant themes emerged from the conference:

1. The public has little understanding of the risk involved in giving personal information to membership networking sites (i.e.,. Facebook, MySpace, etc.) and in posting content on the site;

2. Existing law does not adequately address the legal implications of the methods used to gather, and/or the use of, evidence from social networking sites;

3. There are no specific ethical guidelines for lawyers to follow in participating in, or gathering evidence from, social network sites; and

4. The evolution of third-party applications used in conjunction with social network sites is changing the landscape on a continuous basis.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Donna Seyle - Law Practice Strategy | Attorney Advertising

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