Fox News Chicago had a very interesting special report about a local doctor who sued patients over comments made on Yelp and City Search reviews. As I am not a lawyer, all though I like to play one in my own mind, it is not for me to debate what constitutes for libel and slanderous commentary. However, I believe it is important to stress the new state [emerging state] of our online world.
What you post online in FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter, review websites, or your blog can land you in a world of trouble. It is unfortunate that we cannot share our thoughts regarding our weekend without the sneaking suspicion that a future employer may find the information and reject you for a job. It could be worse, you could write a truthful comment about a physician or business and end up in court defending yourself and pocket book. Worse still, is your teenage daughter or son ending their lief due to sexting escapades going viral.
Here are some quick connectivity facts:
- Facebook was launched in 2004 and as of 2010 has over 500 million active visitors.
- Twitter was founded in 2006 and has 190 million visitors a month.
- According to a recent survey 91% of the U.S. population is wired up to a cell phone.
- 77.3 % of the U.S. Population uses the Internet
With so many people online, so many ways to be connected, it can take a strong will to refrain from writing our thoughts down at any time from just about any place. The major concern it privacy and now self preservation. Our world has been condensed because of the Internet and mobile. What once took weeks or months to communicate now takes seconds. With power comes a great deal of risk.
This is not a warning so much as it is a “heads-up” that what you say can and will be used against you in a court of law if you are not careful. At the very least your words, photos, and videos can be used against you in the court of popular opinion. I am certain as time marches on, we will see more court cases, more lawsuits, and more issues arising due to our addiction to connectivity and urge to post or latest night out or photos or our last meal.
While I believe the doctor mentioned in the Fox News Report is attempting to protect his reputation, it is nothing more that brute force by way of law. The good news is if social media is used with caution and some type of respect of self and others it can be a juggernaut for positive change, communication, and promotion.
Moving forward, use social media and other communication outlets with great care because someone is watching, reading, and looking for a reason to reply…one way or another.