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what congressman weiner should have known?

the past we have posted on some of the legal issues relating to social networking because of what we post on our sites. Recently, I was asked to plan and teach a course to lawyers about these very issues. Our seminar was taught by lawyers and those who host websites and social media sites. It was amazing how many of the attendees were relatively clueless about  how the technology works,  and most importantly, how  these sites can involve grave consequences for their clients - which is you.  My worst fears were confirmed again this week as the Anthony Weiner matter unravels.  How is it possible that a U.S. Congressman could have made such a novice mistake? The moral and ethical  issues aside for the moment - The Congressman was pushing buttons without knowing what they do and now the ship is crashing. Facebooking, tweeting and blogging, along with all of the other instant ways of sharing information have consequences, and I don't mean short term consequences. I think we sometimes confuse electronic mail (e-mail) with social networking postings. If you send an e-mail to 10 of your best friends it is still relatively secure. Sure, it can be forwarded to others but not to the whole world with a single push of a button. Not only that, but e-mails have certain legal protections attached to them associated with the First Amendment.  Our courts are ruling that social networking exchanges like Facebook and Twitter do not have any such protections. When you share a photo or good story about that great night out with your friends, remember it's there forever and can be shared and passed along with relative ease. This is why the social networking sources use the word "publish" to describe what happened to your post. Think of posting like what gets published in the newspaper. It's a public document once it's out there and there is no taking it back. Congressman Weiner tried to take it back, but there are "no take backs" in the world of social networking. That having been said - Social networking has many advantages, and is a great way to stay in touch with friends and family and get reacquainted with old friends. Have fun but remember - don't say anything that you would not be comfortable with the whole world knowing. Dennis F Feeley     

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