On Monday, March 1, I took part in one of the best conversations I’ve had since starting at LIM. “M&M Mondays” is a regular on-campus event hosted by the Department of Marketing, Management, and Finance, and it involves educational and interesting conversations. This week, we spoke about what you should and shouldn’t do on social media regarding copyrights and trademarks and learned the basics of navigating social media legally.
The panel consisted of five industry professionals with experience in the social media world:
- Paige Munroe is a model, fitness instructor, and women’s activist.
- Ilana Lubin is a partner with the Crowell and Morning law firm, specializing in endorsements and sponsorships.
- Heather Greenberg, a lawyer, has worked for Topps, Martha Stewart, and Supreme.
- Robert Roby is an intellectual property lawyer.
- Anna Radke is also a lawyer, focusing on fashion, legal technology, and entrepreneurship.
Panelists largely agreed that the biggest issues they see with social media today are copyright and infringement with bloggers and influencers. It’s disappointing to say, but the truth is that IP works very slowly and if someone is stealing your intellectual work, it may take a while before it is deleted from social media.
Many questions were directed to Munroe, who has over 100K followers on Instagram and is more likely to experience infringement. She was asked if she’d ever experienced legal issues through her social accounts, and she in fact had—Munroe was hacked and blackmailed for cash if she wanted her account back. Thankfully, through IP and some insiders at Facebook, she was able to get ahold of her account again. But, this means some random stranger had gotten access to her personal and private information. Because of the incident, she’s now much more careful with what she chooses to share on her social platforms, even if it’s technically “private.” She advised us to be mindful of the personal information we put out there, even if we don’t have a large following. Munroe also pointed out that she is cautious of who she chooses to collaborate with because she doesn’t want to dilute her brand if things don’t turn out as planned.
When a student asked how much freedom we have to say what we like on our social media pages, Greenberg shocked a few of us with her answer: She explained every social media platform is entitled to its own guidelines. Often, they limit what you can hashtag or share depending on how large your following is. This stunned me and other students, one pointing out the First Amendment and our freedom of speech. The catch is when you sign up for any social media platform, you must agree to their terms and conditions to be able to share content or even make an account. This means they have the right to take down posts if they feel it contradicts their guidelines.
I asked a few questions regarding the 2020 U.S. presidential election and how social media will affect it. Roby said this is an extremely broad question but answered with a fair point: Most politicians or public figures don’t mind publicity as long as it is positive. There will be many people who make false claims during the election, but Roby pointed out that politicians have to “pick their battles,” when it comes to suing companies or people for false claims about them. I think this was a wise point to make.
The last question of the afternoon was for Munroe. Students wanted to know what she would recommend to someone who wants to grow their social following and what practices worked best for her. Munroe said to be a public figure you must know your brand and your audience; create relevant content and remain active and present on your accounts. She also recommends checking your algorithms and continually connecting with people. Munroe reminded us to be careful with hackers and fishing if we want our personal information to stay safe.
This conversation made me take many new factors into consideration. I’m thankful to everyone on the panel for taking time out of their day to come to LIM and have this conversation. I now feel more knowledgeable about social media practices, and I encourage you to attend the next “M&M Mondays” event!