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Legal Issues Associated With Social Media (ILG Report)

ILG-LOGOWhat legal issues do public agencies face relating to their use of social media?  This paper chronicles a number of them. It also offers “dos and don’ts” advice for reaping the benefits of social media while minimizing the pitfalls.  A version of this paper was delivered to the May 2010 City Attorneys Spring Conference.

from the guide’s Introduction..

Social media has transformed communication through Internet technologies that allow users to communicate directly with each other. A key consequence of this is that traditional institutions (for example, the mainstream media, corporations and public agencies) no longer play a controlling role in information flows.

This shift in the balance of power is illustrated by such phenomena as the viral “United Breaks Guitars” video on YouTube.  Millions viewed with the airline traveler’s consumer complaint delivered by song. The post resonated with every consumer that identified with the frustration of not having companies take responsibility for their actions.

Another implication of social media is that conversations are occurring in different places and among different people. No longer is the concept of a “community” something that is defined by location.

About the Institute for Local Government

The Institute for Local Government  is the nonprofit research and education affiliate of the California State Association of Counties and the League of California Cities. The Institute’s Public Engagement Program promotes and supports effective and inclusive public engagement in California’s cities and counties and helps local officials make good decisions about involving the public in local decision making. The program offerings include: how-to guides and tip sheets (available for downloading), local stories from throughout the state, best practices, video presentations and more.

Resource Link: www.ca-ilg.org/SocialMediaLegalIssues

This resource was submitted by Anna Hamilton, a Fellow at the Institute For Local Government, via the Add-a-Resource form.

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