Social Media – How You ‘React’ to a Post Can Be Telling
By Andy Adkins – A recent article by Charles Riley (CNN), “Man fined $4,000 for ‘liking’ defamatory posts on Facebook,” pointed out that a court in Switzerland convicted this man on several counts of defamation after he “liked” libelous comments on Facebook. He “indirectly endorsed and further distributed the comments by using the Facebook “like” button. The posts were written by a third party that accused an animal rights activist of antisemitism, racism, and fascism. The accused was “not able to prove that the claims were accurate or could reasonably be held true.” The court fined the man 4,000 Swiss francs ($4,100).
I believe this is the first social media case of its kind. Note that the events took place between July and September 2015, before Facebook changed from a “Like” only emoticon to the “Love,” “Haha,” “Wow,” “Sad”, and “Angry” emoticons (February 2016).
Many Facebook users automatically select the “Like” button when they want to let the poster or commenter know they read and liked the post/comment. Fewer select the other emoticons, but still, the ability to do so is there.
What makes this an interesting story is that there are several “big data” companies that “capture” this type of data and run it through their analytics machines and get interesting statistics. Many are marketing companies, looking for ways to target their products. BTW, ever wonder why an ad for new shoes or a book or new gadget appears in your Facebook post within a short time after you’ve been “online shopping?” It’s not magic or coincidence.
Other “big data” type companies are also harvesting this type of data for other reasons, including political as well as those doing jury research. For example, if you have clicked the “Like” button (or “shared” a post) for a political post, or in some cases, a lot of political posts, then that tells the company analyzing that data something about you. If you “Like” posts about nature or outdoor activities, that speaks volumes about you. You get the picture. Now combine all those different “tastes” and the company now has a pretty good profile about you.
It doesn’t matter whether you are shopping or you are in a juror pool. Those “Likes” and other emoticons reflect your online social life and there are ways to harvest that type of information. I don’t think that’s going to change how we spend our time on social media, but it does give you food for thought.
Andy Adkins is the Chief Information Officer of Social Evidence, LLC, a leading cloud-based social media discovery, organization, and analysis application. He has been an independent legal technology consultant for more than 25 years, a past chair of the ABA TECHSHOW (2000, 2001) and past co-chair of LegalTech Conferences (2000-2007). He is the author of “The Lawyer’s Guide to Practice Management Systems,” published in April 2009 by the ABA Law Practice Management Section. He can be reached at 352.538.5346, firstname.lastname@example.org, or www.social-evidence.com.
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