Online Communities

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

What privacy rights do you have on social networks? Nearly everyday, civil litigators like myself and law enforcement officials request information from Facebook regarding user information.  Understandably, Facebook has been very difficult in responding to such requests, believing that users have a right to privacy concerning its users information. But how much right should users of social networks have over information that is of public record?

Many social networking sites have taken the position that they will not respond to requests for information without a subpoena.  This is a problem because users cannot obtain access to their accounts even if their account has been hacked.

This is especially problematic when it comes to the problem of cyber bullying. I have been trying to obtain records from Facebook for a client whose child whose account has been hacked by a cyber bully.  Facebook has been unwilling to provide information to me about my clients own account.

According to, the Deputy General Counsel of Facebook, Mark Howitson told lawyers at the Legal Tech Conference in New York today that they are ready to fight requests for user  information without a subpoena.

Unfortunately, you can only serve that subpoena in California which is problematic if you live in New York. Even with a subpoena, they will only provide basic subscriber information unless that user gives his or her consent.  The company believes that it does not have to provide user information under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act which was passed before Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, danced to his first disco tune at his bar mitzvah. Since this issue is relatively new, a congressional hearing is forthcoming.

Mr. Howiston suggests that the best way to obtain information from Facebook is to make a simple friend request, which is of little utility.

What do you think?  What right of privacy should you have on social networks?  Should there be a cyber bullying exception?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Social Media is an ongoing experiment.  Both people and companies are using this new tool to connect with people that they have never met in person.  The main goal of all of this activity is to generate new business.  The million dollar question is how to convert your Twitter followers and Facebook friends into paying customers.

The answer, according to members of the panel convened on October 23, 2009, at the Trust Summit, is to build trust. In front of a packed room of tweeps at the Harvard Club in NYC, social media rockstars Chris Brogan, Julien Smith, David Maister and Charles H. Green, discussed the issue of trust and how it relates to social networking.

According to Chris Brogan, the relationship economy will move the future. The goal of using social media is to create sustainable relationships over time.

In his book Trust Agents, Chris explains that on the web, groups of highly motivated people within every circle have already joined together, helping each other reach a higher ground. I asked Chris, through Twitter,  how professional service businesses (ie law) can harness this group to become clients. I am skeptical that lawyers and other service businesses can use social media to achieve this goal. Chris responded that you need to be a priest and build a church. What he means is that you should use social media to be part of multiple groups that will help your access each group.  Your goal is to be in the center and be the priest.

The trust paradigm is not new. Charles H. Green lectured that you shouldn’t view business through the lens of competition.  The purpose of companies is to serve society.  He argued that competitors should work together to serve the public.  Cooperation between competitors serves everyone interests.

David Sax, writing in Save the Deli observed this spirit of cooperation in the thriving Los Angeles Jewish Deli scene.  Throughout the country, Jewish Delicatessen is an institution that is in decline.  The pastrami is expensive and people are worried about the impact of schmaltz on their cholesterol.  But in LA, the Jewish Deli is thriving because deli owners cooperate.  If Nate N’ Al’s is out of stuffed derma, they call over to Greenblatt’s  for help.   You should do the same when using social media.

As Julien Smith eloquently put it:  “Social media is still an experiment. Be curious of other people when using social media. Only by risking can we create greater things for everyone.”

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Subpoena information for Facebook & Myspace

by Fred Abramson on October 6, 2009 · 4 comments

Listed below is subpoena information for Facebook and MySpace.

Facebook Online Service Address:

156 University Avenue
Palo Alto, California 94301
Phone Number:  650-543-4800
Fax Number:  650-644-3229
E-mail Address: subpoena@facebook. com

MySpace Online Service Address:
407 N. Maple Drive
Beverly Hills, California 90210
Phone Number:  888-309-1311
Fax Number:  310-356-3485
E-mail Address: lawenforcement@myspace-inc. com

Enhanced by Zemanta