Online Social Networking: Legal Risks for Businesses

Identifying and Minimizing Liabilities Due to Company Use and Employee Misuse

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

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Conducted on Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Recorded event now available

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Course Materials

This seminar will examine the range of potential legal pitfalls for businesses arising from using information obtained from social network sites and their employees' use of such sites. The panel will outline best practices for companies to minimize liability exposure.


Online social network sites, such as Facebook®, Twitter®, and LinkedIn®, and forums like listservs and blogs, provide for an open exchange of ideas among individuals and businesses. Businesses are using them more and more for marketing, to tap into customer feedback, and respond to complaints.

Internet forums also make it too easy for employees to leak a business' proprietary information, intentionally or not. Employers now regularly use social network sites to research job applicants and current employees—and use that information in hiring and retention decisions.

Social networking sites and Internet forums are exciting tools for businesses, but they also trigger serious legal implications for companies in terms of their business use and employees' unauthorized or personal use of such sites.

Listen as our panel of employment, IP and privacy law specialists examines the spectrum of legal risks of using social network sites and online forums. The panel will offer their guidance for businesses and their counsel to understand and utilize these new communication methods while protecting business interests and avoiding liability.



  1. Introduction
  2. Employment issues
    1. Privacy concerns
    2. Use of social networking sites for pre-employment screening
    3. Harassment issues
    4. Disparagement issues
    5. Employee blogs
    6. Risks to trade secrets/confidential company information
  3. Intellectual property concerns
    1. Infringement concerns
    2. Defamation concerns
    3. Ownership
    4. Digital Millenium Copyright Act—potential safe harbors
  4. Best practices
    1. Setting policies
    2. Monitoring
    3. Revision of organization bylaws to reflect position and possible action for conduct related to social networking sites, listservs, blogs, etc.
    4. Disclaimers and user agreements
    5. Legal/privacy considerations


The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • How can online social networking and Internet forums pose a threat to a business' IP rights—and how can companies manage that risk?
  • How can employers legally take advantage of Internet sites to learn more about applicants and current employees?
  • What are the best practices for companies in creating and implementing policies regarding their own and their employees' use of social networking sites and Internet forums?


Laura B. Friedel
Laura B. Friedel

Levenfeld Pearlstein

She provides business-focused, practical advice across a full spectrum of labor and employment issues, including...  |  Read More

Peter N. Townshend
Peter N. Townshend

McDermott Will & Emery

He is a member of the firm’s Corporate Department and has extensive experience representing emerging growth...  |  Read More

Peter E. Perkowski
Peter E. Perkowski

Winston & Strawn

He focuses his practice in commercial and business litigation, accounting malpractice, entertainment, securities, and...  |  Read More

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