Feds Declare that Blogs and Social Networks are Public Meetings

11 April 2010 Internet, IT & e-Discovery Blog Blog
Authors: Peter Vogel

For purposes of dealing with web 2.0 the White House Memo released on April 7, 2010 about social media specifically states that “interactive meeting tools—including but not limited to public conference calls, webinars, blogs, discussion boards, forums, message boards, chat sessions, social networks, and online communities—to be equivalent to in-person public meetings.” The White House Memo is a follow-up to President Obama’s January 21, 2009 (day after the President was sworn-in) “calling for the establishment of ‘a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration.’” Fascinating development that blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, MySpace, Yelp, and the like are public meetings which means that one should expect little privacy from use of these online services.

Majority of Government Agencies Use Social Networks

This report states that a majority of government agencies now use social networks is hardly a news flash, but put in context of the White House’s Memo that use of social networks are public meetings may change the public view of how they communicate. Of the 400+ million Facebook members of an estimated 70% are outside the US, and one may wonder how communications across international borders impacts the declaration that social media is public meetings.

Yelp and the Business of Extortion 2.0

This recently filed class action suit accuses Yelp of extortion to get bad comments removed from Yelp and lower rankings by reviewers. It remains to be seen whether this case will succeed, but if Yelp is considered a public meeting by the White House it makes one wonder how extortion fits in. Not to mention that the 50 million a day of tweets on Twitter are considered public meetings, even though at least 14,000 are followers of a Doonesbury’s cartoon character Roland Hedley! Web 2.0 is definitely taking us in interesting directions!

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