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Social Media PM's

The law relating to media, internet, telecomms etc

Re: Social Media PM's

Postby Slartibartfast » Sun Apr 05, 2015 6:18 pm

Hairyloon wrote:
Slartibartfast wrote:A long time since I studied law, but most social media sites are free to use - eg without payment of consideration, what contract has been formed?

A good point, but consideration does not have to be in money. Is there not an argument that the work that posters do to attract new punters to the site by posting content is a consideration in exchange for being allowed to post?


I do not think so, no. There is no contractual requirement for a Swarb member to perform such "work" as a condition of creating an account here. Someone might register as a user here and never post any public message, but still read the topics and use the PM system to discuss matters of interest privately. I think we have some members like that already.

I do not think that posting comments through social media could be generally considered to be a form of payment or transfer of value which created a contract, especially if that purported contract was at variance from the operator's T&C's. If anyone ever managed to raise the possibility of a contractual relationship, the T&C's would be amended to exclude that from occurring.
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Re: Social Media PM's

Postby Hairyloon » Sun Apr 05, 2015 6:41 pm

atticus wrote:That misses the point. Is there a contract between me and hairy about the content of all those many hundreds of pms...

I think you missed my point there. The contract, if any would not be between users, but between a user and the administration of the site.
Although if fact, my real point was that if we are agreed that an action is wrong, then shouldn't we look for a means of redress within the existing law? Otherwise Parliament may feel the need to make a new law, and they are very likely to make a balls up of it...
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Re: Social Media PM's

Postby Slartibartfast » Sun Apr 05, 2015 8:54 pm

Hairyloon wrote:Although if fact, my real point was that if we are agreed that an action is wrong, then shouldn't we look for a means of redress within the existing law?


I think that discussion perhaps falls within the recent caselaw developments mentioned by b1969 in "The Right to Private Communication" -

b1969 wrote:The tort of misuse of private information has arguably been around for some time (see Lord Nicholls' dicta in the 2004 Campbell v MGN case) but there is no doubt at all after this case.
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Re: Social Media PM's

Postby Hairyloon » Mon Apr 06, 2015 7:26 am

Ah. I'd missed that bit. Thank you.
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Re: Social Media PM's

Postby dls » Mon Apr 06, 2015 1:42 pm

Sorry, but that 'whappingly' begs the question of whether a communication over a social media network is capable of attracting any privacy where such is explicitly refused by the site's T&Cs.

It is like claiming privacy for a statement after you have announced it at Hyde Park corner.
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Re: Social Media PM's

Postby Hairyloon » Mon Apr 06, 2015 7:36 pm

I disagree. If we are talking about "private messages", then it is more like asking for privacy after you have passed an envelope marked "private" to an official at Hyde Park Corner.
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Re: Social Media PM's

Postby atticus » Mon Apr 06, 2015 8:30 pm

That's been written in code, in invisible ink, on rice paper which you have then swallowed,no doubt.
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Re: Social Media PM's

Postby Slartibartfast » Mon Apr 06, 2015 8:40 pm

I think the argument probably hangs on what constitutes "misuse", and the T&C's would be a major part of defining that.

For example, dls might have opted in to an advertising program which trawls our PM's for keywords and then sends us targeted personal adverts. Some might be offended at this, especially if the nature of the adverts hinted at embarrassing interests, but if the site T&C's provide for it then I can't imagine a tort claim succeeding.

But what if dls collated our PMs, sent private investigators to identify our real-life identities, and then published a scandalising series of "exposé" articles in the Daily Mail? I think it likely that one of us could sue him for distress and damages.
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Re: Social Media PM's

Postby dls » Tue Apr 07, 2015 12:17 pm

The word 'private' here has a particular meaning. It is a term derived from computer systems, not law.

In computer systems, private means nothing more than that there are certain machine imposed access restrictions. Anyone with authority (as defined by the computer operating system) has a right to the material. The word has no privacy connotation in the sense used within a law court. The words are homonyms not synonyms.

If anyone has any doubt, then, for one board at least, all pm'ing might have to be disabled very quickly.

This is very important here exactly because we need to be very clear that there is _no_ legal advice giving which might be construed so as to suggest any legal privilege.

If that is what you want, you are entitled to use email (enjoying, if that is the word) the privacy provided by gmail or hotmail or whatever.
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Re: Social Media PM's

Postby Hairyloon » Tue Apr 07, 2015 1:51 pm

dls wrote:Anyone with authority (as defined by the computer operating system) has a right to the material.

But does that give them the right to do what they will with said material?
Or should that right extend only so far as is reasonably necessary for the proper administration of the board, or as otherwise required by law?
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