Social Media and the Law: A Guidebook for Communication Students and Professionals

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Routledge, Jan 3, 2013 - Social Science - 234 pages

Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Flickr allow users to connect with one another and share information with the click of a mouse or a tap on a touchscreen—and have become vital tools for professionals in the news and strategic communication fields. But as rapidly as these services have grown in popularity, their legal ramifications aren’t widely understood. To what extent do communicators put themselves at risk for defamation and privacy lawsuits when they use these tools, and what rights do communicators have when other users talk about them on social networks? How can an entity maintain control of intellectual property issues—such as posting copyrighted videos and photographs—consistent with the developing law in this area? How and when can journalists and publicists use these tools to do their jobs without endangering their employers or clients?

In Social Media and the Law, eleven media law scholars address these questions and more, including current issues like copyright, online impersonation, anonymity, cyberbullying, sexting, and WikiLeaks. Students and professional communicators alike need to be aware of laws relating to defamation, privacy, intellectual property, and government regulation—and this guidebook is here to help them navigate the tricky legal terrain of social media.


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1 The boundaries of free speech in social media
2 Defamation
3 Privacy and terms of use
4 Intellectual property
5 Commercial speech and federal regulations
6 Government information and leaks
7 Student speech
8 Obscenity sexting and cyber bullying
9 Social media use in courtrooms
10 Social media policies for journalists
11 Social media policies for advertising and public relations

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About the author (2013)

Daxton R. "Chip" Stewart, Ph.D., J.D., LL.M., is an associate professor at the Schieffer School of Journalism at Texas Christian University. He has more than fifteen years of professional experience in news media and public relations and has been an attorney since 1998. His recent scholarship focuses on the intersection of social media and the law.

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