ISIS Selfies Demonstrate the Connection Between Social Media and Business Situational Awareness

What is Situational Awareness?

A Navy SEAL describes situational awareness in this way: “[i]n military-speak, situational awareness is defined as the ability to identify, process, and comprehend the critical elements of information about what is happening to the team with regard to a mission. More simply, it’s being aware of what is going on around you.” (SEAL Training Tips: Mental Preparation)

Situational awareness requires that you pay attention to the obvious but, of equal importance, that you pay attention to the subtle things around you. There is no better context to discuss this in than the world of the “selfie” — that is, a photograph that one takes of oneself — because the whole point of a selfie is that it is all about you, only you, and nothing else. It is the ultimate narcissistic action because the selfie-taker is broadcasting to the world that “it’s all about me.”

What does ISIS have to do with this?

Remember, “it’s all about me,” that is what the members of ISIS must have been thinking when they were recently taking selfies which they then broadcast all over social media. Indeed, they were so focused in on themselves — and how important they were and how the pictures were all about them — that they forgot to even consider the world around them. Literally.

Not good for ISIS. Why?

When they were taking their selfies, they were doing so from their “top secret” training camp and also included in their pictures were identifiable geographical features and landmarks that pinpointed exactly where this training camp was located in the Ninawa Province of Iraq. Take a look at a few of the images and you can see for yourself.

ISIS is going to feel the consequences of this lapse in judgment. You can read more about ISIS’ grand mistake here: ISIS Outsmarted: Exposing Top Secret Location Through Selfies

The real question is whether you and your business will also learn about the consequences of not having situational awareness when dealing with social media.

 

Do you understand business situational awareness and how your social media could be compromising it?

In 2012 I wrote a blog titled Business Situational Awareness & Social Media and explained how the use of social media by your employees — or, heaven forbid, yourself — could be compromising your business assets. Go review that (short) post as a little refresher. This is also a point I cover when I speak on social media law and you can hear that discussion here at the 15:00 mark of this presentation: Social Media Law: It is Real and, Yes, Really Can Impact Your Business (embedded below) as it too will only take you a couple of minutes to put it into perspective.

Now that you get the big picture of what I am talking about when I refer to business situational awareness, check out this fantastic post on the Harvard Business Review Blog Network by Martin Harrysson (@martinharryson), Estelle Metayer (@competia), and Hugo Sarrazin (@hugosarrazin) titled How Not to Unwittingly Reveal Company Secrets. Here is a teaser:

Here’s a quick quiz: Have you ever tweeted your business-travel plans? Does your LinkedIn profile describe what you do in great detail? Is localization enabled on your mobile device when you use social media?

If you answered yes to any of those, you and your company may have left footprints that your competitors can detect and analyze.

Does that sound familiar? Do you recall my story about my visit with the expert witness in the video presentation? Harrysson, Metayer and Sarrazin provide some more great examples of how companies’ assets can be compromised through the use of social media and, more importantly, provide 7 steps companies can take to help reduce their exposure. Go check out their article and, as you can see, the links are to their Twitter handles so why not say hello and let them know you appreciated their fine work!

You can click the following link for more posts on Social Media Law. Should you or anyone you know need assistance in dealing with these issues or just want to talk about the law in general, please feel free to give me a call (469.635.1335) or email me (stuma@brittontuma.com) or catch me on Twitter (@shawnetuma) and I will be more than happy to talk with you!

Listen to Shawn Tuma discuss social media law issues for business on PlayMakers Talk Show via podcast

2013-03-09 21.17.45

UPDATE: here is the podcast

Shawn Tuma is a featured guest on this week’s PlayMaker’s Talk Show on 570 KLIF in Dallas, Texas. Shawn will discuss several social media law issues that are important for businesses and business owners to consider when using social media. The show airs at 4:00 p.m. today – Sunday, March 17, 2013. You can listen LIVE by going to the KLIF website or stream the show on iheartradio.

playmakers-big

A podcast of the episode is available by clicking HERE to play/download or going to the PlayMaker’s Talk Show website.

You can view Shawn’s blog posts on social media law HERE. If you have any questions or would like to talk social media law, computer fraud, data security or privacy, please feel free to contact Shawn at 469.635.1335, stuma@brittontuma.com or @shawnetuma

Business Situational Awareness, Social Media & Harvard Business Review

Do you understand business situational awareness and how your social media could be compromising it?

If not, you really need to read this because not only do I explain it, but the Harvard Business Review has just posted a fantastic blog that really adds some depth to my explanation.

Last March I wrote a blog titled Business Situational Awareness & Social Media and explained how the use of social media by your employees — or, heaven forbid, yourself — could be compromising your business assets. Go review that (short) post as a little refresher. This is also a point I cover when I speak on social media law and you can hear that discussion here at the 15:00 mark of this presentation: Social Media Law: It is Real and, Yes, Really Can Impact Your Business (embedded below) as it too will only take you a couple of minutes to put it into perspective.

Now that you get the big picture of what I am talking about when I refer to business situational awareness, check out this fantastic post on the Harvard Business Review Blog Network by Martin Harrysson (@martinharryson), Estelle Metayer (@competia), and Hugo Sarrazin (@hugosarrazin) titled How Not to Unwittingly Reveal Company Secrets. Here is a teaser:

Here’s a quick quiz: Have you ever tweeted your business-travel plans? Does your LinkedIn profile describe what you do in great detail? Is localization enabled on your mobile device when you use social media?

If you answered yes to any of those, you and your company may have left footprints that your competitors can detect and analyze.

Does that sound familiar? Do you recall my story about my visit with the expert witness in the video presentation? Harrysson, Metayer and Sarrazin provide some more great examples of how companies’ assets can be compromised through the use of social media and, more importantly, provide 7 steps companies can take to help reduce their exposure. Go check out their article and, as you can see, the links are to their Twitter handles so why not say hello and let them know you appreciated their fine work!

You can click the following link for more posts on Social Media Law. Should you or anyone you know need assistance in dealing with these issues or just want to talk about the law in general, please feel free to give me a call (469.635.1335) or email me (stuma@brittontuma.com) or catch me on Twitter (@shawnetuma) and I will be more than happy to talk with you!

-Shawn E. Tuma

Executives of Public Companies Must Use Caution With Social Media – The SEC is Watching!

Are statements made by executives of publicly traded companies via social media held to the same standard as statements they make in any other limited environment when it comes to material information about the company? Absolutely, here is why … 

Just this past week news broke that the Securities and Exchange Commission is considering bringing a lawsuit against Netflix and its CEO, Reed Hastings. The reason? Because in July Mr. Hastings used his personal Facebook page to “boast” that, for the first time ever, Netflix use exceeded 1 billion hours in one month. As a result of this post Netflix shares jumped by 6.2% — on the day of the disclosure.

Securities laws prohibit insider trading. “Insider trading is illegal when a person trades a security while in possession of material nonpublic information in violation of a duty to withhold the information or refrain from trading.” (SEC Website)

The SEC’s Argument

The SEC is viewing the followers of Hasting’s Facebook page as being analogous to his family, friends and acquaintances at a private holiday party and saying that by disclosing this information in such a semi-private setting, it amounted to selectively disclosing important information about the company to a select group of people who then used that information to trade shares of the company.

Hastings’ Argument

Hastings counters with 2 arguments: (1) the information was not a “material” event; (2) he has over 200,000 followers on his Facebook page and the disclosure of that information to those 200,000 followers combined with the fact that the Netflix blog disclosed in June that it was nearing 1 billion streaming hours, this amounted to an adequate public disclosure and, therefore, was not insider trading.

You can read more about the details in an excellent Wall Street Journal article by Greg Bensinger, SEC Warns Netflix CEO Over Facebook Post.

The Growing Problem

good numbers tweet

This is not the first time a social media post by a company executive has gotten him into hot water. On March 7, 2012, Gene Morphis, the CFO of of Franscesca’s Holdings Corp. tweeted “Board meeting. Good numbers=Happy Board.” and managed to get himself fired for the post. (read more)

The Takeaway

So what does all of this mean? There are 2 very important takeaways:

  • Executives – do not disclose any information about the company over social media that you would not be permitted to say at a private holiday party.
  • Companies – yes, you definitely need a social media policy, but you also need proper training of your executives as well as your employees to make darn sure they understand and can apply the information provided in your social media policy.

Give me a call or send me an email if you would like me to help you and your company with of these.

-Shawn Tuma (469.635.1335 / stuma@brittontuma.com)

Lawsuit Over Ownership of Former Employee’s Twitter Followers Settled: PhoneDog v. Kravitz

If you have been in any of the seminars where I have presented on social media law, you have heard me say “an ounce of prevention is cheaper than the first day of litigation.” Right? Well it is true, and the context in which I said that is in reference to the lawsuit PhoneDog v. Kravitz that, according to Mashable, has now settled. I discussed this lawsuit in more detail HERE if you  would like to know more. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed but, quite frankly, anyone who understands the price of litigation knows that both parties lost in the end. That is why the takeaway is so important:

THE TAKEAWAY: Every company needs a contractual agreement that clearly states who owns social media accounts used on behalf of the company. It is that simple. Such an agreement can usually be included in an employee handbook, employment policies, or a social media policy. The cost of such an agreement will likely be cheaper than the very first day of litigation if a dispute arises over that issue.

Kravitz himself summed this up quite nicely: “If anything good has come of this, I hope it’s that other employers and employees can recognize the importance of social media … good contracts and specific work agreements are important, and the responsibility for constructing them lies with both parties.”

Social Media Law: The Legal Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media

Here is my most recent presentation titled Social Media Law: The Legal Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media. Please take a look at it and let me know what you think!

<div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/shawnetuma/social-media-law-the-legal-dos-and-donts-of-social-media&#8221; title=”Social Media Law: The Legal Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media” target=”_blank”>Social Media Law: The Legal Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/shawnetuma&#8221; target=”_blank”>Shawn Tuma</a></strong> </div>

Your business needs a social media policy and this is why.

It is foolish to not have one. Having a social media policy is like having a Will for your businesses’ branding and marketing efforts and the cost of getting that policy will likely be less than the bill for the first day in litigation if you do not!

Social media is the next big thing when it comes to branding and marketing your business. Actually, it is already here. This has been one of the biggest news stories of 2011 and it is not going away anytime soon.  I am a believer. I love it and I encourage all of my clients to find ways to implement it in their businesses. It is free to sign up and free to use (for the most part) with only time and effort being the primary investment. Businesses usually have their social media being managed by employees, independent contractors, or outside “experts”. The key to success with social media is to have many “connections” with others and develop relationships with them. But, who really owns those connections and relationships?

That is a good question–do you really know who owns your businesses’ social media connections and relationships?

This is a question that has been brought to the forefront because of the recent lawsuit PhoneDog v. Kravitz that is pending in federal court in the Northern District of California.

The essence of this case is pretty simple: PhoneDog used social media such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to promote its services and Kravitz worked for PhoneDog as a product reviewer and video blogger and, in conjunction with the duties of his job, Kravitz used a Twitter account with the handle of @PhoneDog_Noah that had approximately 17,000 followers (wow, @shawnetuma only has 1,130 if you’d like help me out). As always seems to be the case in today’s ever changing job market, Kravitz resigned from PhoneDog and PhoneDog asked him to turn over the Twitter account but, instead, he simply changed the handle to @noahkravitz which now has over 24,000 followers and, for its bio says “People are not property. Love over gold.” (it’s ok, I followed him also)

PhoneDog sued Kravitz and Kravitz filed a Motion to Dismiss which is a long and costly way of saying “judge, they have no case so please throw it out.” The court, however, did not see it so clearly and in its Order on Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss allowed PhoneDog to go forward with the key claims of misappropriation of trade secrets and conversion. That does not mean it will be an easy battle for PhoneDog or that it will ultimately prevail. In fact, based on traditional principles of trade secret law I have a feeling it will not, and have previously written about these issues in other blog posts that I would encourage you to read:

Are LinkedIn Contacts Trade Secrets?

LinkedIn: think before you sync!

The issue is not, however, whether PhoneDog will win. The real issue is why is it even having to fight? Let’s assume for the sake of argument that it does win. At what cost will that victory come and, at that cost, will it truly be a victory?

How much will it cost your business to win?

Take a look at the 10 page Complaint in PhoneDog v. Kravitz and take a guess at what it cost in legal fees alone just to prepare and file it. Add to that a $350 filing fee, costs for service of process, and lots and lots of your time and your attorneys’ time which costs lots of money. But, you’re not done yet–not by a long shot. Filing the lawsuit is just the beginning. Go here and take a look at the Docket Sheet for PhoneDog v. Kravitz; they have been fighting over this since July, have addressed over 30 documents filed in the record of the case, and are still not past the initial stages of the lawsuit. Do you want to take a guess at how many thousands of dollars PhoneDog (and Kravitz) have spent so far?

Let me stop here and make something clear. I love being a trial lawyer and I love trying cases. I love technology and technology related cases. There is nothing I would enjoy more than being the attorney handling a case like this. Moreover, I would love for someone to pay me a lot of money to do it! Do you have an interest in having a part of how this body of social media law develops? Would you like to sponsor my efforts to shape it? If so, let’s get rolling!

If your interest, however, is focused on the financial strength of your business and not on shaping the future of social media law, this is probably not a wise use of resources. But if you do not have a policy addressing these issues, it is likely that you could end up doing exactly that though not by choice.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”

That old saying could not be more true than when it comes to having a social media policy for your business. All of the issues that are being litigated in PhoneDog could have been addressed and agreed to from the very beginning in a written social media policy, along with a host of other issues that arise concerning the use of social media. What is even better is that the cost of obtaining such a policy will probably be less than what it would cost for just the first day of litigation! It really is a wise investment for your business and all you have to do to get started is just give me a call. But, …

If you don’t want to do that, then give me a call anyway and we can start planning our litigation strategy — this is going to be fun!