Social Media Savvy at March Membership Meeting
Written By: Lauren Antista – Communications Coordinator, Florida Psychological Association
“If it’s out there, someone else can find it,” Alexis Lambert said.
FPRA Members were treated to a candid and often humorous look at the legalities of social media at the March membership meeting. March 17, Alexis Lambert, the Sunshine and Public Records Attorney for Attorney General Bill McCollum, presented to FPRA’s Capital Chapter on “Social Media and the End of Privacy.”
As the Sunshine and Public Records Attorney, Lambert aids consumers, government and media in understanding their rights and responsibilities under Florida’s open government laws. She is also an adjunct professor of Communications at Florida State University teaching Mass Media Law to undergraduates. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish, a Master’s degree in education and a law degree from the University of Florida.
Lambert affirmed point blank that you can get “dooced” for your online content – a blog, a Twitter post or a Facebook picture. “Dooced” as defined by Urban Dictionary to mean: “to lose one’s job because of one’s website” or “Getting fired because of something that you wrote in your weblog.” Citing as an example the tale of Heather Armstrong, a blogger, who lost her day job because of colorfully rehashing workplace encounters on her blog dooce.com.
“With great power comes great responsibility,” Lambert asserted, to quote Spiderman author, Stan Lee. A quote particularly relevant to government employees, since state law declares that any work done on the government’s behalf to be of public record, thereby open to public scrutiny. This includes, but is not limited to: criminal case files, medical files and bank information. And anything received or sent out by a government agency could also be requested by the public, with only a few, very specific exemptions.
According to Lambert, myflsunshine.com is a prime tool for consumers to reference when faced with questions of records or privacy. “These laws protect you as much as they inconvenience you,” she stressed, urging FPRA’s members to call the Attorney General’s office or to check the Sunshine manual rather than risk getting sued. She accentuated this point with an anecdote of a “Twitter libel” case, in which a Chicago landlord responded to a former tenant’s Twitter post about mold in her apartment with a lawsuit for defamation. However, she also maintained that social media can be a great marketing tool, and be a great source of creativity and humor.
Amber alerts to find missing children via social media is an excellent example of the positive impact of social media on government. But, Lambert also continuously reaffirmed that once something was writtten or online, you can’t take it back and others have access to it, alluding to the political, humorous DemonSheep twitter account created in response to a Carly Fiorina ad she ran in her race for a California senate seat.
Lambert recommended to FPRA’s members they be continuously conscious of “wearing their letters” in any setting or circumstance and realize their actions and words at all times reflect on their employer and the organization they represent. Wrapping up the March membership meeting, Lambert left FPRA members with a couple of great tips to keep in mind:
- Keep good records; and
- Be as transparent as possible.