Two recent lawsuits are challenging on line transparency, beginning with Twitter. St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa sued Twitter over an account created in his name and Detroit-based PR firm, Tanner Friedman is asking Twitter to reveal the name(s) of those who set up an account and fake agency page on Twitter. (*In full disclosure, one of the named partners at Tanner Friedman is a distant cousin of mine.) According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, La Russo's lawsuit claims someone created an account in his name and sent out "derogatory" remarks, thus damaging his reputation, causing "significant emotional distress."PC World recently commented on La Russo's lawsuit, stating that "Twitter's "Impersonation Policy" clearly states that "parody impersonation accounts" are perfectly permissible. As long as the profile somehow indicates it isn't meant to be legit, it's A-OK by Twitter standards." Although La Russo and Twitter are trying to work out a settlement, TannerFriedman just wants answers as to who is using Twitter to try to damage the reputation of a PR firm and wants to hold that person accountable.
According to a recent post on the TannerFriedman blog, a response states that "Legislators in Texas last week passed an “online harassment” bill making it a crime to impersonate people on social media sites." The bill now awaits the governor's signature. According to On Line Media Daily, Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) has introduced a federal measure.
This is uncharted territory for lawyers, lawmakers and public relations professionals. In fact, today, websites and social networking sites are being extremely cautious about what is posted on their site as to limit their liability. However, given the enormous popularity of Twitter, Facebook, Linked IN, You Tube and others, some post or parody is bound to slip through the wires.
To avoid any damage and mitigate any loss to your business and reputation, you should constantly monitor the Internet to avoid anyone to cause you any further damage and continue to work to increase your profile among key sectors, including on line media.