In June of this year, a new California bill, which allows social media companies to be sued by state government attorneys for having features that contribute to the addiction of children to their apps, cleared the state Senate. The bill was originally brought to California’s state assembly as one that would permit parents to sue social media giants for up to $25,000 per violation but was later amended after lobbying from business and tech-industry groups. The worry that social media is able to exploit children through ads, notifications, and other features in the design that are promoting addiction has amplified since the premiere of 2020 documentary, “The Social Dilemma.” Since then, the warning that regulation was looming has quickly turned into actual movement towards regulating the actions of social media companies. The bill has since failed, a disappointing end to an initiative that could have made a real change towards keeping social media giants in check.
Recently, whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before a Senate subcommittee that Facebook has been deliberately putting its own profits before users’ safety. As Facebook’s former product manager for civic misinformation, Haugen calls for federal regulation of social media platforms and asserts that Facebook will not solve what she calls a “crisis” of deliberately ignoring users’ wellbeing for the sake of its own profits without Congress’s help. She points to tobacco, automobiles, and opioids, stating that when it became clear that those products were harming people, the government took action.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (“the Act”), enacted in 1938, protects public and private employees with a federal minimum wage, requirements for overtime pay, and youth employment standards. Despite protections established for children under the Act, children in the entertainment industry are expressly excluded from its protections. Instead, minors in the entertainment industry must rely on state regulation of their employment, which is often stricter and more protective than the Act. However, there is a massive loophole in that the entertainment industry in most states does not include child influencers and social media stars. With the increase in social media in the last decade, children in the social media sector are left in limbo about their rights and employment protections. State entertainment laws for minors must be extended to include the fast-growing number of children growing up in social media fame.
Thanks to the continued prominence of social media in people’s daily lives, it is no surprise that more familiar marketing strategies such as celebrity product endorsements would update for the current era. Recently, social media advertising has practically entered the realm of science fiction with the introduction of computer-generated influencers. These avatars are created to sell, but who is responsible if they fail to comply with advertising laws?
Sunny Co Clothing posted a photo of a woman wearing a red swimsuit with a caption reading “EVERYONE that reposts and tags us in this picture within the next 24 HOURS will receive a FREE Pamela Sunny Suit” – along with other applicable rules. Instagram went crazy with thousands of reposts. The following day, Sunny Co Clothing posted a second photo stating that they had the right to cap the promotion if they so choose. Many people, myself included, questioned how this retraction was possible. Could it be as simple as reposting an Instagram photo and tagging the company to receive a $64.99 swimsuit for free? The answer is yes, but with a caveat. One must follow the federal sweepstakes laws, applicable sweepstakes laws of the participants’ home states, and the governing rules of all the social medial platforms where the post appears. Easy, right?
Nearly 40% of publishers using native advertising are not compliant with the Federal Trade Commission’s (“FTC”) guidelines; this figure has improved from one year ago, when only 30% of users were following the guidelines. In 2017 alone, the FTC estimates that the revenue generated from native advertising will total $20.9 billion, with an estimated 610 new advertisers each month this number is projected to increase to $59 billion in 2018. The number of corporations using native advertising has increased over the years because of social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, where much of the in-feed content is paid or sponsored.
On September 25th, a former Okaloosa County, Florida paramedic, Christopher Wimmer, was sentenced to six months jail time and three years’ probation for taking “selfies” with incapacitated victims in ambulances last year and sending them to a co-worker. He and his co-worker, Kaylee Renee Dubois, were engaged in a “selfie war” with each other and snapped images and videos of patients in ambulances who were unconscious, sedated, intoxicated, or incapacitated. In total, 101 photos, 64 videos, and 41 patients were photographed or recorded during the so-called war, and a mere three patients consented to photographs being taken of them. Employees’ missteps with the privacy rights of patients have a negative lasting effect on their employer, their own career, and their patients.
Mary H. Carlson Associate Editor Loyola University Chicago School of Law, JD 2018 Social media has emerged as a preferred platform for the expression of personal opinions, a means of gathering new information, and as an important networking tool. However, health care profs subject themselves to particular dangers health care professionals (HCPs) subject themselves …