This post appears courtesy of Cayce Myers, Ph.D., LL.M., J.D., APR, Chief Legal Research Editor at IPR and Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech University. This is a preview to an upcoming study he is working on. His extended summary can be found here.
Deleting social media content as a tool for reputation management is very common. Cayce Myers’ study concentrates on the legal complications of deleting social media content and how PR practitioners can avoid getting themselves and their client into legal issues. Social media content is now being used as evidence for litigation more than it has before.
Deleting social media not only affects those that are on a legal team, but also the PR practitioners of an organization. The organization and its communications team can be sanctioned for deleting media during a crisis. This is why PR practitioners need to be able to balance the reputation management of their organization and know the laws against social media deletions and the legal consequences for those actions.
Myers analyzed a variety of federal and state civil cases involving social media deletion on trial and State Supreme Court cases. The U.S. court systems work on past rulings and this study looked at the pattern of court decisions on these types of issues. The study analyzed the themes, rationales and patterns of these cases to fully understand the implications for deletion of content.
Four recommendations to PR practitioners:
As technology continues to expand, the courts on various levels will continue to face these types of cases. PR practitioners will have to work even more closely with lawyers to make sure the online reputation of their clients is secure. PR practitioners have to know the gravity of the online world and how their clients can be at risk for legal implications with the simple deletion of a post.
Jordan Johnson is a fourth year public relations and political science student at the University of Florida. He also is a communications assistant for the Institute for Public Relations. Follow him on Twitter @TheJordanCoast.