The internet has been a catalyst for change in many fields. Lawyers have been affected by this particularly strongly, because the advanced stage of connectivity that we’re currently in has created some peculiar implications in certain legal fields. The internet tends to make some people forget that they’re interacting with other human beings, leading to some types of behavior that are pretty unique to this environment. If you frequently interact with others on social media platforms, it’s important to understand the implications of what you’re posting and how you’re behaving, because sometimes, there might be actual legal repercussions for certain things you say.
Let’s get one thing out of the way first, though – the idea of free speech does not apply to private platforms. Free speech is limited to contexts involving the government, not social media platforms and online forums. Getting banned from Twitter because you were acting inappropriately is not a violation of free speech. It’s surprising how many people don’t understand this concept and, more worryingly, are willing to push as far as they can to get “justice.”
Just because you found something online doesn’t mean that you have the right to share it freely. This is another common misconception that’s landed a lot of people in trouble in the past and continues to do so. Copyrighted materials don’t lose their copyright by simply being transferred between different people. And, considering how easy it can be to identify the individual user behind an online account, you can get in a lot of trouble by uploading a copyrighted picture or video. “Sharing” in the context of reposting content on Twitter, Facebook, and other similar platforms is different. As long as you were not the original uploader of the infringing material, the worst that could happen is that your shared post will get deleted.
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Social media can be a fun way to stay in touch with others, but it can also be a dangerous field if you’re not prepared for the legal implications that come with each post that you make. There are many reasons to believe that social media will play an even more central part in our lives over the next decades, so understanding how to behave properly on those platforms in legal terms is going to become very important.
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