Category Archives: Media

Twitter? Free. True Cost? $430,000 (+ Interest)!

MP900313815 Love don't cost a thing…love means never having to say you're sorry…stop me when you've heard enough…

Just after the new year, I posted about a defamation suit filed against Courtney Love.  Well, that suit has been settled by Love for $430,000 plus interest, as noted in the headline.

Think about this for a moment, folks.  Love creates a free account on a service that didn't exist a few years ago.  She proceeds to use it to defame (according to the plaintiff, anyway) and ends up settling for what most of us would consider to be a very painful sum.

It used to be if you were angry at someone, they'd tell you to go home and punch your pillow.  Heck, there was always Primal Scream therapy.  No matter how foolish it may have been for Love to take to Twitter with her rampage, I doubt it ever crossed her mind that this would be the end result.

Technology has provided no shortage of outlets.  What we need are a few more inlets.

Warning: Line Down!

Power Line You don't get to change your mind.  You don't get to sheepishly remove posts and apologize.  Well, technically you do, however, this is an example of why it doesn't matter. 

The Power Line blog posted an inappropriate item (someone else's assessment, not mine).  Next day, the poster apologized and the post was taken down.

Now the bad part…

Here's the ABA Journal article discussing the post.  Here's the article linking the readers to the cached version of the removed post (here's an alternate method to accomplish this).  Here's the Akin Gump chairman disavowing any connection to the blog.

The moment you hit "send" or "publish", it's already too late; you've been burned.  World Wide Web, indeed…

Love Birds? No, Courtney’s Tweets

MP900315682 I keep telling myself I'll just pick out & post only the most egregious misuses of technology to make my points.  The problem is, it's pretty much becoming a daily occurrence.  It's the same way with privacy.  I wasn't even going to bother with this latest example, except that it has some juicy issues for lawyers – if you're interested in defamation claims, that is.

The facts are simple.  Courtney Love tweeted a bunch of nasty stuff about Dawn S., who claimed Love owed her money.  Love was sued for defamation by Dawn S.

In the United States, it's extremely difficult for a public figure to sue for defamation.  There's this legal terminology called "actual malice" that may factor in.  Naturally, a term like that gives rise to the obvious query; is there such a thing as imaginary malice?  A prof of mine said to think of it as "Constitutional malice", which was a little easier to get my arms around.  But I digress…

What's interesting about this case is that the arguments go to the very basis of whether Love qualifies as someone with enough influence to damage Dawn S.  Should we reasonably believe – or rely on – what Love says, especially when the form of broadcast (in this case, Twitter) is at issue?  So much for "The medium is the message"…

Also, I'll wager you've never heard the term, "Insanity defense for social media".  Get used to it…I have a feeling we're going to be hearing it a lot in the future.

Favre’s Folly. What’s Next – ‘Peyton’ Place?

MP900407438 "I guess Favre – and the New York Jets – better hope she doesn't sue."  Well, she hasn't – yet – but two masseuses did.

Look, I know I come dangerously close to the line with some of my posts, but I try not to be mean-spirited about it.  When I 'go there', I'm trying to make a strong illustration – usually related to risk.

Sure, some of you don't need the club over the head, but just read the story as it unfolds…

In all the days of my lives, through dark shadows, I couldn't find the guiding light on the edge of night to have a Ryan's hope of creating a soap opera as good as this one.  [I would have worked in 'Genital Hospital', but, 1) that joke's been made 1,000 times and 2) that would be going over the line.]

Look at some of what we've got (with the caveat that these are unproven allegations):

  1. Favre, a masseuse, her husband and the Jets' "Massage Coordinator" get in on the act.
  2. The Coordinator calls Favre a "pervert", yet castigates the husband for not keeping things quiet, suggesting some kind of covert compensation agreement might have been arranged.
  3. Favre admits to having "bad intentions".

If you're the Jets' attorney, how'd you like to even attempt to go to trial based on those statements?  Any good defense attorney will tell you how, but you won't like the answer…

Brett Favre and several members of the New York Jets organization know that millions of fans, detractors and the press are watching their every move at all times, yet they were willing to commit these comments to writing.

They don't get it.  Do you?

Bumper to Bumper, Part II: Steve Jobs is Wrong

Any guesses as to which guy is Steve Jobs and which guy is the customer?  Hint: Steve Jobs always wears black.

If you read Part I of this series, in closing, I asked whether the "bumper" solution was a good decision from a management standpoint.  My opinion?  Yes, but only if you look at it from a purely financial perspective.  From a customer service/relations standpoint, it's a disaster.

Let's review the progression of events, from initial customer complaints to Apple's eventual response:

  1. Denial – "There is no problem."
  2. Blame the Customer – "You're holding it wrong!"
  3. It's all in your Head – "Our s/w is erroneously telling you that you have a problem."
  4. Blame your Competitors – "Everyone else has the same problem."
  5. Denial II – "There is no problem, but we'll give you a free bumper."

What's the 1st thing that comes to mind?  This isn't indigenous to Apple.  I've heard this song before.  Where do think the joke, "That isn't a bug, it's a feature." comes from?  I just think that with Apple's dedicated user culture, they have a better chance than most to pull it off; but that doesn't make it right.

I've spoken to career Apple customers who are so incensed by what they term the arrogant attitude of the company (usually referring to Jobs, specifically) that they've finally had enough.  Apple can afford to lose them, but that's not really the point, is it?

So where's the eDiscovery tie-in?  Where do I start?  You might be in a corporate IT department.  You might be inside counsel.  You might be outside counsel.  You might be me – a consultant, positioned somewhere in-between all of them.  What are you going to do when management adopts the attitude:

  1. Denial – "We don't need to implement this."
  2. Blame the 'Customer' – "The client doesn't want it."
  3. It's all in your Head – "We don't need to comply with the rules."
  4. Blame your competitors – "Nobody else is implementing it."
  5. Denial II – "We'll take our chances.  If litigation arises, we'll look at it then."

The difference between Apple and you?  They have a public relations issue and face class-action lawsuits.  You – and/or your management are likely to face serious sanctions.  But don't worry; that's only if something goes wrong


Bumper to Bumper, Part I: e-Lessons Learned from Antennagate

BumperCar_Front If you're a long-time reader of this blog, you know that I used to post frequently about relationships between techies and management and how successful interaction between them is critical to the success of an undertaking; internally and externally.  As you can see from the headline, I'm using Apple's response to the iPhone 4G 'debacle' as a teachable moment.  Some will take issue with my use of the word debacle, but I'm speaking in terms of the negative press this issue has generated.  Caveat: I own an iPod Touch (but you already knew that).

If your initial thought is to wonder how any of this applies to eDiscovery, read on…


Make no mistake.  Steve Jobs knows his customers – and so do I.  My first real exposure was when I was tasked with managing the only MAC network at Hughes Space and Communications (this goes back to 1993-94).  I quickly learned about the culture of MAC users.  As often happens to me – and many of you, I suspect – once that item was on my resume, the MAC element became a regular part of many of my future projects.

Stevie and I had a convo and we agreed on several points: 1) There's a hardware issue (not that we'll admit it), 2) the problem affects a relatively small number of customers, 3) a plurality of dedicated customers will back us, no matter what we do, 4) if we're forced to issue a recall, it could cost billions, 5) we know that a bumper/case/duct tape will solve the problem (not that we'll admit there is one) for most customers, so 6) let's go that route and offer a free bumper/case/duct tape (sorry, couldn't resist that last one).

The cool thing about #6?  We know that a lot of customers who do have the problem won't act.  On the other hand, we also know that others who don't have the problem will; in the end, probably a wash.

If you've perused articles on the issue – and read the accompanying comments – you'll probably note that the scenario has played out the way Stevie and I thought it would.  Overall, reaction has been favorable, and every time someone posts an article or comment critical of the solution, they're usually swamped with 'the faithful' calling them whiners and defending Apple, usually making the effort to express how much they love their iPhones.

So, was it a good decision from a management standpoint?  And where's the eDiscovery tie-in?  I'll bring it all home for you in "Part II: Steve Jobs is Wrong"…

Destroyed Reputations – Brought to you by Facebook/MySpace

00309100 It's nothing new for me to warn about social networking, linking you to the latest example of someone who was done in – legally speaking, of course – by their own postings.  But I gotta say, I've never seen it done quite the way this L.A. Times article does it.

Here are the facts; a man and a woman were in a private residence.  Another male, a bail bondsman, entered through an unlocked sliding-glass door, an argument ensued and the bondsman was shot and killed.  Now, follow the progression of the article.  The 'authorities', if you will, provided virtually no information.  But the 'Times examined the Facebook & MySpace pages of all three individuals involved.  Then, like assembling some sort of puzzle, they used excerpts from each to update the original piece.

The result?  Although the article doesn't speculate, the innuendo is clear; the selected posts suggest that the woman was caught with one man by the other, resulting in his murder.  But how do we know this?  Where are the facts?

The story is located in a section called "L.A. Now", which is described as "the Los Angeles Times’ news blog for Southern California."  In their defense, I suppose they would say that as bloggers, they're not subject to the same journalistic standards as their 'official' newspaper.

But I'll tell you, this reads like a gossip article from a supermarket tabloid.  It also illustrates how three separate people, innocently posting on their social networks, had their personal lives invaded in a way none of them could have ever anticipated.  Yes, I know one of them is dead, but he had two children – and possibly other family members – who will be affected by the publicity.

Shame on you, L.A. Times.

Take a Picture…It’ll Last Longer…

J0433115 Privacy is taking another hit to the chops.  A Swedish firm named The Astonishing Tribe has created an application called Recognizr which allows you to snap a picture of a total stranger, then it crawls the web to find information about that person.

Stalker's dream, anyone? 

Well, if you believe the sensationalist media, yes, but in reality, not quite.  It's an opt-in service so what we're really talking about is, people who don't understand the implications voluntarily opting-in (e.g. singles who think it would be a fun way to meet people), unscrupulous entities that opt you in without your consent, or perhaps an employer demanding that their staff opt-in.  You think not?  I saw an ad seeking an employee for Best Buy that required the candidate to have a Twitter account and at least 250 followers.

Based on what we see with social networking, plenty of people don't seem to be too concerned about their privacy so there'll potentially be plenty of 'volunteers' from the 1st group.  My guess is that the 2nd group would quickly be discovered, lambasted from one end of the Web to the other and quickly shut down (Google Buzz, anyone?).  As for the 3rd?  That's a question for the future.

As a lawyer, I certainly can envision practical uses for the application.  I've been to trials where there's a person who sits at the back of the courtroom every day, I know they have an interest in the case (e.g. insurance carrier's attorney) but they won't tell me who they are or why they're there.  Wouldn't I love a tool that would tell me for them…

Hold the Tiger!


I was going to refrain from commenting on the Tiger Woods fiasco, but…

If you have access to a PC, networked device, TV or radio – or if you happen to have been anywhere near a water cooler lately – you already know more than you ever wanted to about Tiger Woods' formerly-private-but-not-so-private-anymore antics.  I'm not going to bother including a link.

But, once again, we have someone essentially done in by electronic evidence; voice mail, text messages, etc.  All I keep thinking about is ten years from now, when his kids are older and will be listening to his voice mail messages, reading his text messages and being endlessly tormented at school.

Please…please…learn from his mistakes.  This is one time when you should state definitively, "I am not Tiger Woods."