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Below are links to lists of just some of the regulations, statutes, and guidelines that may impact social media. We broke them down by subject but there is significant cross-over between categories. Remember that social media law is evolving fast. Laws, regulations, and guidelines vary from place to place and change all the time.
Cyberbullying Laws Cyberstalking Laws Sexting Laws Free Speech Laws Privacy Laws Employment Laws Content Laws Consumer Laws Data Collection Laws Advertising Laws Sweepstakes & Contest Laws International Laws
National Laws: There are some laws that apply everywhere in the country. These include the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) §512, Communications Decency Act § 230(C)(1), and FTC Act §5 15 U.S.C. 45. If a state law conflicts with a federal law, the federal law prevails.
State Laws: Every state has its own laws regarding social media and you could face both state and federal charges for the same offense. Some states have specific statutes applying to specific social media behavior, like cyberbullying, while others can prosecute using other statutes not specifically limited to social media.
Regulations: Many government agencies have the power to make rules that have the effect of law. For example, the Federal Trade Commission regulates advertising, the Federal Communications Commission regulates texting, and the National Labor Relations Board regulates labor practices. Regulations play a major role in social media law.
Guidelines: Don't let the term fool you. Whether it is called a law, statute, regulation, or guideline, it comes with penalties attached. If a government agency provides "guidelines" for social media behavior, take them seriously. Action can be taken against you for violating guidelines much in the same way you can be prosecuted for violating a law or regulation.
International Laws: Freedoms and rights we enjoy on social media in the United States can be controlled or forbidden in other countries. Some nations approach issues such as privacy far more seriously than we do in America. Foreign social media law is important because social media does not stop at international borders. Social media activity can be legal where it originates but illegal where it spreads. If you travel to, or do business in, another country you can be subject to that country's social media laws.
Jurisdiction is an especially important issue in social media law. A case can have completely different outcomes depending where it is litigated and which law applies. This can result in heated legal battles, for example, when there is a dispute over whether the law should be applied in the jurisdiction where the social media activity originated, where the offense occurred, or where the servers holding the data are located. Litigation is often filed in one state instead of another because social media laws there are more favorable in that state.
Social Media Policies: If a social media policy is set up property, it is essentially a contract between an entity and associated social media users. This gives all the parties rights and recourse when it comes to social media behavior and penalties for alleged violations of the social media policy. It is always better to establish your own terms of social media use than to rely on the uncertainty of evolving law and the judgement of your peers.
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