Navigating Social Media Legal Risks

Robert McHale

Published by






Reviewed by

Jeremy Crump FBCS


7 out of 10

As the author notes, the next few years promise to be very fruitful in the social media legal field and businesses will need to be ready to respond to successive judgments and new technology that will change the environment in which they work.

Robert McHale is a practising lawyer in the social media field in the US, and this book is aimed at business decision makers in all organisations. It’s equally relevant whether or not they want to use social media proactively since many of their employees and customers will be using social media anyway, potentially involving them in legal issues.

The book covers a very wide range of topics - marketing and advertising, HR issues, responsibility for record keeping and disclosure in litigation, issues arising from user-generated content, privacy and security. In each chapter, there is advice on some basic issues that need to be addressed. The final chapter suggests what should be in a well-formed corporate social media policy.

This is very much a book of pragmatic advice for generalists who are new to the area. It is amply provided with examples of legal cases and commentary on US legislation so it goes some way beyond the initial identification of social media as a problematic area.

It’s concerned with legal advice rather than legal theory - it’s about how to deal with existing legislation in the light of recent judgements rather than a critique of where current law is inadequate to deal with new technology. It certainly doesn’t present an agenda for change in the law.

The book is clearly written and structured. The difficulty for the UK reader is that virtually all the material is drawn from US cases, mostly from the federal district court. The exceptions to this are where the author discusses the internal rules created by major social media platforms to restrict such things as lotteries.

There is no attempt to engage with European law. So while the issues are undoubtedly relevant to the UK environment, the specific legal context and possible remedies will be different. Business leaders who read this book are likely to want to seek further advice on creating a social media policy if they have not already done so.

Further information: Que

September 2012