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!

Social Media Law Presentation Slides for MENG Webinar

I recently had the pleasure of presenting a nationally broadcast webinar on social media law to MENG (Marketing Executives Networking Group) which is a national network of top-level marketing executives. You can learn more about MENG by visiting its website and you can learn more about my presentation by visiting MENG’s webpage promoting the webinar.

Thanks to the hard work and experience of the MENG team, the technical aspects of the webinar were very smooth and the participants had fabulous questions that made it even better. Presenting to MENG was a great experience that I really appreciate!

The slides from the presentation titled Social Media Law: It is Real, and, Yes, It Really Can Impact Your Business are available HERE.

 


 

About the author

Shawn Tuma is a lawyer who is experienced in advising clients on complex digital information law and intellectual property issues. These issues include things such as trade secrets litigation and misappropriation of trade secrets (under common law and the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act), unfair competition, and cyber crimes such as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act; helping companies with data security issues from assessing their data security strengths and vulnerabilities, helping them implement policies and procedures for better securing their data, preparing data breach incident response plans, leading them through responses to a data breach, and litigating disputes that have arisen from data breaches.

Shawn is a partner at BrittonTuma, a boutique business law firm with offices near the boarder of Frisco and Plano, Texas which is located minutes from the District Courts of Collin County, Texas and the Plano Courthouse of the United States District Court, Eastern District of Texas. He represents clients in lawsuits across the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex including state and federal courts in Collin County, Denton County, Dallas County, and Tarrant County, which are all courts in which he regularly handles cases (as well as throughout the nation pro hac vice). Tuma regularly serves as a consultant to other lawyers on issues within his area of expertise and also serves as local counsel for attorneys with cases in the District Courts of Collin County, Texas, the United States District Court, Eastern District of Texas, and the United States District Court, Northern District of Texas.

Using Social Media in Your Law Practice – Presentation to Collin County Bar Association #ccba

Using Social Media in Your Law Firm

Using Social Media in Your Law Firm

Today I have the pleasure of speaking to a great group of Collin County lawyers in the Collin County Bar Association’s monthly general meeting about the practical and ethical considerations of using social media in a law practice as well as my own tips that I have learned by using social media in my practice.

Here is are Prezi presentation slides — take a look and let me know your thoughts!

Using Social Media In Your Law Practice

 


 

About the author

Shawn Tuma is a lawyer who is experienced in advising clients on complex digital information law and intellectual property issues. These issues include things such as trade secrets litigation and misappropriation of trade secrets (under common law and the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act), unfair competition, and cyber crimes such as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act; helping companies with data security issues from assessing their data security strengths and vulnerabilities, helping them implement policies and procedures for better securing their data, preparing data breach incident response plans, leading them through responses to a data breach, and litigating disputes that have arisen from data breaches.

Shawn is a partner at BrittonTuma, a boutique business law firm with offices near the boarder of Frisco and Plano, Texas which is located minutes from the District Courts of Collin County, Texas and the Plano Courthouse of the United States District Court, Eastern District of Texas. He represents clients in lawsuits across the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex including state and federal courts in Collin County, Denton County, Dallas County, and Tarrant County, which are all courts in which he regularly handles cases (as well as throughout the nation pro hac vice). Tuma regularly serves as a consultant to other lawyers on issues within his area of expertise and also serves as local counsel for attorneys with cases in the District Courts of Collin County, Texas, the United States District Court, Eastern District of Texas, and the United States District Court, Northern District of Texas.

Using Social Media in Your Law Practice – Prezi Presentation

Using Social Media in Your Law Firm

Using Social Media in Your Law Firm

I recently had the pleasure of speaking to a great group of Collin County lawyers in the Collin County Bar Association’s Law Practice Management Section about the practical and ethical considerations of using social media in a law practice as well as my own tips that I have learned by using social media in my practice.

Here is are Prezi presentation slides — take a look and let me know your thoughts!

Using Social Media In Your Law Practice

 


 

About the author

Shawn Tuma is a lawyer who is experienced in advising clients on complex digital information law and intellectual property issues. These issues include things such as trade secrets litigation and misappropriation of trade secrets (under common law and the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act), unfair competition, and cyber crimes such as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act; helping companies with data security issues from assessing their data security strengths and vulnerabilities, helping them implement policies and procedures for better securing their data, preparing data breach incident response plans, leading them through responses to a data breach, and litigating disputes that have arisen from data breaches.

Shawn is a partner at BrittonTuma, a boutique business law firm with offices near the boarder of Frisco and Plano, Texas which is located minutes from the District Courts of Collin County, Texas and the Plano Courthouse of the United States District Court, Eastern District of Texas. He represents clients in lawsuits across the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex including state and federal courts in Collin County, Denton County, Dallas County, and Tarrant County, which are all courts in which he regularly handles cases (as well as throughout the nation pro hac vice). Tuma regularly serves as a consultant to other lawyers on issues within his area of expertise and also serves as local counsel for attorneys with cases in the District Courts of Collin County, Texas, the United States District Court, Eastern District of Texas, and the United States District Court, Northern District of Texas.

Deactivating Your Facebook While in Litigation May Be Destruction of Evidence

SPOILED WHILE WAITING - NARA - 515470

TAKEAWAY: Deactivating your Facebook account while in litigation may be destroying evidence that could be sanctioned by the court for spoliation of evidence.

In Gatto v. United Air Lines, Inc., et al., 2:10-cv-01090 (D. NJ Mar. 25, 2013), the district court entered an order finding that the Defendants would be entitled to an instruction at trial permitting the jury to draw an adverse inference against the Plaintiff for failing to preserve his Facebook account. The relevant facts regarding this issue are straightforward.

Plaintiff sued Defendants for personal injuries that occurred while he was working, claiming he could no longer do certain activities, no longer work, etc. The Defendants requested information from Plaintiff’s social media accounts in discovery (which is standard course these days) and Plaintiff produced quite a bit of the information from accounts other than his Facebook. He did not provide the requested information from his Facebook account. The parties engaged in quite a bit of fighting over the Facebook account and, just before all of the contents were ordered to be turned over, Plaintiff just so happened to (accidentally, of course) deactivate his Facebook account. Unfortunately–of course–by the time news traveled from lawyers to Plaintiff and back to lawyers, well, over 14 days had elapsed since the account was deactivated and it was now permanently deleted — bye bye Facebook account and everything in it!

Defendants then sought sanctions against Plaintiff for “spoliation of evidence” and sought their costs, attorneys fees, and a spoliation inference for the jury. The court agreed there was spoliation:

Spoliation occurs where evidence is destroyed or significantly altered, or where a party fails to “preserve property for another’s use as evidence in pending or reasonable foreseeable litigation.” Litigants in federal court have a duty to preserve relevant evidence that they know, or reasonably should know, will likely be requested in reasonably foreseeable litigation, and the Court may impose sanctions on an offending party that has breached this duty.”

The court stated in no uncertain terms that it was irrelevant whether Plaintiff requested that his account be deleted or merely deactivated because either scenario involved the withholding or destruction of evidence. “[I]t is beyond dispute that Plaintiff had a duty to preserve his Facebook account at the time it was deactivated and deleted.” The court provided a very thorough analysis of the spoliation issue (i.e., you should read the full opinion) and ultimately determined that the appropriate sanction was a spoliation inference.

Now, was this scintillating little blurb enough to make you want to go and read the opinion?

If you have any questions or would like to talk about any of these kinds of issues, please feel free to give me a call (469.635.1335) or email me (stuma@brittontuma.com).

p.s. – I would like to thank Chad Pinson at Stroz Friedberg for sharing this opinion with me – thanks Chad!

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

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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

WARNING: Internet Pictures of You Hunting While on Medical Leave from Work Will Kill Your Retaliatory Discharge Claim

Book illustration, pen drawing

TAKEAWAY: If you are claiming you cannot work and are on medical leave, posting pictures on the Internet of you hunting during that same time will not help your case when (yes, i said WHEN) you get fired and make a claim under the Family and Medical Leave Act for retaliatory discharge. They will kill your case!

This is the lesson of Foster v. Sanderson Farms, Inc., 2013 WL 177998 (S.D. Tex. Jan. 16, 2013). This is a great example of one of my maximums of social media law: “If you are doing something you shouldn’t, don’t post about it on the Internet!”

Any more questions?