Social Media

Social media has changed the way businesses operate today—opening doors to new and exciting opportunities while also presenting unforeseen risks. We help close the divide between technology and the law, providing insights for managing your business in a social world.

Our approach

Most businesses today have an online presence and are active on platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Facebook. New applications come into the mix each day. This new technology, coupled with outdated laws, exposes businesses to legal issues involving trade secrets, data privacy, employees, export controls and intellectual property, to name a few.

As businesses expand their use of technology and social strategies, questions abound:

  • Is your intellectual property protected?
  • What will you do if your data is compromised?
  • What are your legal obligations for notification of a disclosure of personal information over social media?
  • Do you have policies in place that set guidelines for employee use of social media?
  • Who owns and has access to your social media account information?
  • How do you safely exchange information in virtual settings and across borders?

We’re charting the course in this evolving space, clearing a path to keep legal issues from standing in the way of using social media to increase visibility and grow your business.

Labor and Employment—We draft social media policies, counsel employers on how best to handle problems relating to employee use of social media and train employees—including management and human resources—on their employer’s social media policies and practices. We stay apprised of NLRB opinions in this rapidly changing area and keep our clients’ policies current.

Intellectual Property—We protect intellectual property—including domain names, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets—from unauthorized use and help clients to develop strategies for best protecting their brands on the Internet.

Data Privacy and Security—We help companies safeguard their information against data breach, mitigate in the event of a data breach, provide advice on incorporating privacy and risk-management policies for social media and in mobile and web media applications, equip employers with “BYOD” policies and advise on issues like what to do if proprietary or confidential information on an employee’s (or potential employee’s) social media profile is discovered.

Export Controls—We work with clients on the issue of creating, sharing or exchanging information and ideas in virtual communities and networks across national borders and departments, where the information being exchanged is subject to U.S. export control laws and substantial penalties for violations.

E-Discovery—We provide discovery and litigation technology services to resolve disputes regarding ownership of digital information—like social media accounts—and who has ownership rights. We also have experience mining social media accounts for crucial digital evidence.  

SEC Compliance—We provide guidance regarding the use of social media communications in conjunction with business transactions.

Digital Assets—We provide guidance on the Model Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act and state laws governing access to social media accounts upon death.

Who we work with

  • Public and private companies, and for profit and nonprofit organizations, across all industries
  • Service providers who utilize technology and the internet for internal or external investigations
  • Companies developing and selling social media products and services
  • PR and crisis planning agencies who respond to social media disasters

Recent experience

  • Crafting social media policies for employers that address:
    • the use of social media in the hiring and termination process,
    • employee use of social media as it relates to and impacts the employer and its brand and
    • employee management of and engagement with the company’s external social media presence (e.g., a company’s own Facebook and Twitter pages).
  • Guiding clients through the decision-making process for disciplining employees who misuse social media in a way that impacts the company’s brand.
  • Advising clients on how to properly protect their IP from unauthorized uses on social media, in addition to advising on proper use of brands in accord with relevant laws.
  • Advising technology companies on compliance for certain features in new products, apps, social communication platforms or services.
  • Helping clients resolve domain name disputes through the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy.
  • Counselling clients on complying with existing and emerging statutory, regulatory and case law guidance on social media, including the Genetic Information and Nondiscrimination Act, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority regulations, SEC guidance, FDA regulations, the growing body of guidance on the access to and use of social media from the National Labor Relations Board, the Access to Digital Assets Act, and federal and state privacy rights laws.
  • Representing clients regarding unauthorized use of trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets—such as infringing content or usernames—on social media.
  • Drafting discovery requests in litigation specifically regarding access to information from individuals’ social media accounts.
  • Representing media entities that use blogs, webpages, Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms, on issues surrounding republication and editing of content.
  • Representing clients with regards to advertising claims and digital endorsers via social media and blogs.
  • Defending a client in employment litigation case involving issues relating to the ownership of social media accounts and related issues such as forensic recovery of passwords.
  • Defended a franchisee in four separate actions concerning allegations of sexual harassment involving social media discovery.
  • Assisted a quickly growing social media startup company in connection with privacy and alcohol-beverage risk-management issues.
  • Developed numerous website and mobile app Privacy Policies and Terms and Conditions of Use that are compliant with state and federal laws.
  • Multiple data breaches through social media accounts and websites.

New NLRB test makes employee discipline easier

Daily Record | August 12, 2020

This article on a recent decision by the National Labor Relations Board extensively quotes Rochester Labor & Employment partner Stephanie Caffera for her related outlook and the application of protected concerted activity on social media.

Problems with the California Consumer Privacy Act

Los Angeles/San Francisco Daily Journal | January 23, 2019

Los Angeles Government Investigations and White Collar Defense partner Jason Gonzalez and associate Karina Puttieva co-wrote this contributed article identifying issues with the “remarkably unclear” California Consumer Privacy Act, a measure passed last year that regulates large businesses businesses who buy, sell or share consumers’ personal information.

State AGs at odds over Google privacy pact at high court

Law360 | September 05, 2018

This article mentions Complex Commercial Disputes partners Chris Mason, Sarah André, Dan Deane and Seth Horvath as counsel for The New York Bar Foundation and The New York State Bar Association in an amicus brief—filed with the United States Supreme Court—in support of the approval by a California District Court, and the Ninth Circuit, of Google’s settlement involving a “cy pres” remedy in a privacy-related case.

Threats on social media draw sanctions

Chicago Daily Law Bulletin | September 03, 2018

Chicago Complex Commercial Disputes associate Laura Bacon authored this article about a recent opinion issued by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals related to a Title VII action filed by a former Cook County Department of Corrections officer against her employer and how the plaintiff’s Facebook post during the litigation impacted the case.

21st-century influencer

Los Angeles Business Journal | July 29, 2018

Los Angeles Corporate partner Ellie Altshuler is quoted in this article for her outlook on challenges surrounding content ownership as the relationship between brands and social media influencers evolves.

Workplace Messaging Apps Offer Flexibility Require Vigilance

Newsday | February 16, 2018

Long Island labor and employment partner Chris Gegwich is quoted in this article discussing how employers should create policies on the proper use of instant messaging apps in the workplace.

4 things marketers should know about the FTCs latest crackdown on influencer-driven social media

Adweek | October 09, 2017

Los Angeles IP counseling and transactions associate Ellie Altshuler is quoted throughout this article about the recent updates made to the Federal Trade Commission’s endorsement guidelines and their effects on social marketers.

Back to top