The Lawfather Podcast: Social Media and The Law

“The Lawfather” Podcast explores the intersection of social media and the law, unraveling the legal implications and challenges arising from the digital age. From privacy concerns to defamation issues, join us as we navigate the evolving landscape of social media and provide expert insights to help listeners understand their rights and responsibilities in the digital realm.

Hosted by William Franchi of Franchi Law, a personal injury lawyer dedicated to fight for you on car accidents, bike accidents, and more. On the Lawfather Podcast, we bring you insightful discussions, captivating legal cases, and valuable tips to empower you on your legal path.

Thanks for listening to The Lawfather Podcast with William Franchi and if you have a question for William, leave a comment below on the Franchi Law Facebook page, or on his Instagram.

Subscribe, Rate, and Review to The Lawfather Podcast on Apple PodcastsStitcherGoogle Play, or iHeartRadio 
Follow William on Twitter and The Lawfather on Instagram



Welcome to the Law Father Podcast. As always, we are here in Law Father Studios, right within Law Father headquarters, big shout out to Radio Influence, always doing a great show. Make sure you check out all their other shows on there. I hear, uh, I hear there’s a show coming back, Jason, I hear, uh, E can and Brittany are coming back, or at least that’s what social media said. So, uh, if social media said it, it must be true, right? They’ve done two episodes. Oh, they’ve done two episodes. Dude, he can texted me the other day. He didn’t tell me he had two episodes in the can already. Hey, he’s got two episodes. Anyway, if it’s on social media, it must be true, right? Well, before we get to that, please rate review and subscribe to this podcast. All right? Check us out on all of our social media.

All you gotta do is check out at the law Father, and you’ll get to us in one way, shape, or form. But that also segues us into what we’re talking about today, and it is social media and the law and, and what the intersection of those two things are, right? Because like, like I said, if it’s on social media, it must be true, right? The problem is, I think there may be people who truly believe that, that if they see it on social media, it must be true. And there’s a lot of implications that come with that from a lot of different legal aspects. So let’s just kind of dive in and look at what the, the legal ramifications can be when we’re dealing with social media. And, you know, the first thing is, and and those of you who listen to the show know that I do personal injury law, like that’s, that’s my primary business, right?

Uh, running the podcast is, um, I’d like to say it’s the primary business, but it’s, uh, it’s secondary, maybe, uh, tertiary, uh, for those of you out there counting, uh, one, two, and three, but social media, when, when we’re, when we’re looking at, from a personal injury perspective, right? And we’re really any court case, and this, this applies really with any time you’re dealing with a court, right? You, you may have heard the saying, you know, it put, if anything you put in an email, expect it to be read, right? Well, I’ve been in depositions, I’ve been in trials, I’ve been in things where emails are literally read out, right? So just keep in mind that much like that saying about emails that, you know expected. Write it as if it’s going to be read in front of a judge one day, right? It, it really holds true, and it really holds true of social, social media.

Because what happens is, and we see these in discovery requests all the time, give us access to your social media, and I’m short cutting the question, but there’s a way that you can download your Facebook, your Instagram, I don’t know if TikTok does it, but I know Facebook and Instagram, there’s a way to download it, and you have to present it to the other side. If you delete the account, if you, anything you do right after that request to try to hide what’s on there, that’s a violation. And actually it can have some serious ramifications for destroying evidence. So you don’t wanna do that, okay? And, and the argument comes, well, but my profile is private. Well, no, it’s not, okay. There is zero expectation of privacy. It when you’re dealing with social media. None, none whatsoever. Okay? So that concept of, oh, but it’s private, it doesn’t fly it, it’s just, it’s not a reality.

Okay? So that’s just not how it works. All of those pieces can be, can be brought up, okay? So if you’re gonna do something that kind of is counterproductive to your case, whatever the case, your case may be, just know that it, it can be discoverable, right? And I think that’s where we start kind of that legal intersection of social media and the law is that anything you put on there is fair game, right? Um, it, it just, it just is, right? So things that you do in your house that’s private, but all of a sudden you put it on social media. Here’s a great example. Ja Morant, right? He, social media is, is going to be his downfall, right? It, it just is. He’s got suspended 25 games. And, you know, I’ve seen some things that maybe that’s too light, right? Look, pulling a gun out in your own house, not necessarily illegal all by itself, you know, unless you’re a felon, then we have some legal ramifications, right?

Pulling a gun out, putting it on social media, not necessarily illegal, right? But think about the real world implications of it, right? Think about the real world, real world implications of doing things. And that’s one of the things that we’re gonna talk about is employment law and, and how that what you do on social media can affect that, because that’s where John Morant is, right? And this, you know, Jason and I, we talked a little bit about the podcast, and this podcast ever actually was about John Morant in any way, shape, or form. But as I’m talking about it, it, it, it is very pertinent to what’s going on. And you go, well, how can he be suspended for doing something? And I believe the last one was in his own house, right? No. Or strip club. Oh, it was in a strip? Okay, well, so it is illegal to pull a gun in a strip club at most circumstances.

Um, probably illegal to actually have it in the strip club. Um, depending, well, I don’t know if it’s Mons, Venus or some of the other ones here in Tampa where there’s no alcohol. Uh, there may be different rules, but if it says you can’t bring it in, you can’t bring it. But anyway, that’s a whole nother topic for a whole nother day, right? Um, it turns out Tampa’s like the strip club capital of the world. So, um, those of you who like strip clubs, Ja, come on down. Um, come on down to Tampa, just leave the gun at home. All right? Um, actually, you should probably stay outta the strip clubs and maybe stay outta the public spotlight for a little bit, just, you know, friendly piece of advice. But anyway, we see all these different pieces of the puzzle where the law and social media intersect. And that’s, that’s the main point. So let’s, let’s kind of take this step by step and let’s look at

Some the things that could be going on that you don’t even necessarily realize. And, and you could be exposing yourself to, you know, some legal implications, not even meaning to, right? And, and some of this may not be illin intentioned, right? But some of it may be, and people may be hiding under the guise of, well, I have free speech, right? First amendment, free speech. Free speech free speech. That only goes so far. Okay? So let’s look at the first part. The first part is defamation. And what defamation is basically saying that you publish something, you write something, you post in this case something about somebody else that is not true. All right? The, the number one defense to a defamation case is that the information is true, right? Uh, Jason said, post that I have a big head, right? If there was some way to measure it, right?

Which I mean, you could measure a head, there’s, I don’t know if there’s a true delineation on size, what makes a head big or not, right? And we measure it, and it turns out that yes, it is big. Well, he’s safe from defamation, right? But if it’s not, if it measures that it’s not, then, and I’m injured by it and injured in some way, shape, or form, then I could sue Jason, right? So that’s, that’s how defamation works in a, in a really small, narrow example, right? So you have to put it out there. You have to what the legal world calls publish it. Right? Now, think about these laws came about when we truly were talking about publishing, right? That, you know, newspapers and magazines and things that were quote unquote published, but speaking, it also counts as publishing as well. So posting on social media also enables that publication of the statement.

Now, if it doesn’t hurt me, right? If, if it doesn’t injure me, so say, say some, someone says, lie about me and it impacts my business, right? Well, that would be the injury. I could go, okay, my business was impacted by X number of dollars, and because of that post that was made on social media, I can show how it impacted my business and the amount of money I can then sue that person. Okay? Um, and, and I think this actually goes beyond a little bit into, uh, like Google reviews, although there’s been a lot of protection on Google reviews, and, and I was on a show recently, uh, folks Alert podcast. Great podcast by the way, so check it out. But, um, I was on it recently and we were talking about a, um, a plastic surgeon and, and the surgery that he had done.

And I, I don’t truly think I mentioned this on the show. I don’t think that that the doctor has any, um, has any fault in what happened with the surgery that we talked about there. You’ll have to go check it out too, if you want to know what I’m talking about. But point being is he actually sued using, uh, over some bad reviews that were had. Um, reviews I think are a little bit different than social media postings. But if you’re publishing something that’s not true, okay, you can still be held liable for that. Um, maybe Google doesn’t take down the review, but it still can count in the legal world as defamation. So you really wanna look out for that. Uh, you know, one, one of the big things that we do wanna look at there in this, and you know, you might go, well, hey, it’s on Facebook, it’s on Instagram.

They should be the ones that are responsible for this and that all the service providers for the internet, they should be responsible for vetting and making sure that all of the information that’s on these platforms is true and accurate. Well, the US courts have said, no, no, it is all on the user. So if the user publishes something that’s a lie, it’s on the user, it’s not on those platforms, okay? Um, the it, how would they ever have any ability to verify every single statement that’s out there and, and then get to take it down before it actually gets published anywhere? I mean, that’s the reality is it would be an impossibility for any of these places to, to really control it. Now, I, I know Facebook, and this came out, I think during one of the elections where they kind of fact check things now.

And, uh, they, they put like a little flag that the information could be false or, um, I think they actually even black it out if it is, if they’ve actually proved it to be false. I think they put a little warning that you have to click through to actually see the information. Like, Hey, this information has deemed to be false, but if you really wanna read it anyway, um, you know, go, go ahead. So, um, that’s, that’s the first piece. Now, the next piece and, and, and we dive into really some kind of hardcore legal aspects from, and, but there’s not really a choice, right? Because there’s a lot of different pieces to the puzzle that go on here, especially when we’re talking about social media. So copyright infringement and in trademark infringement is, is huge when we’re talking about social media. Um, think about it like this, right?

If you remember shows back in the day, um, some of the reality shows your, uh, survivors, your big brothers, your, um, any of those kind of reality type shows where people brought their own clothes, right? Think about when, when you’re watching a sitcom or, or something that’s been produced. Nothing they wear, for the most part. I, I shouldn’t say nothing. Cause I’m sure there’s, I’m sure there are examples that would prove that to be wrong. For the most part, you don’t see any logos anywhere, right? And when you did see in these reality type shows, you would see, like if they were wearing a black shirt, you would see like if there was a logo on the side, like on the chest, that there was a piece of black tape over it, right? I mean, I think it was one of those things, for the most part, people knew what it was, but it was covered up so it didn’t infringe on the trademark.

And, you know, social media has become such a big business now that you can have people who are influencers who are getting paid for doing certain things online, who all of a sudden, because they’re just essentially the general public doing things on camera may have a trademark, right? Like I have, you know, I, I’m wearing a a, a Travis Matthew Polo shirt right now. Right now it was purchased through a company that does branding, right? So theoretically I have a license to use it. But let’s say, let’s say I didn’t, like, let’s say I didn’t have, you know, the, my, uh, law firm name on the chest, right? And all of a sudden I’m doing the video, and all you can do is see the logo, right? And I know those of you watching on video, you can kind of see, um, there’s a little white spec here.

You can’t really see the logo, but let’s say it was bigger, potentially, if Travis Matthew didn’t like what I was doing, they could send me a cease and desist. And before those of you listening go, well, that would never happen, right? It has happened, okay? Uh, those of you who know the brand, Ferrari, I don’t know, small brand, you know, no one’s ever heard of, uh, but they’re, they’re a very, very exclusive car company. And you know what, what makes ’em very exclusive is they pick and choose who they want to sell to, right? There are, there are a lot of parameters on essentially who can buy a Ferrari, right? I, I believe you have to start out at one of the entry level Ferraris before you can move into the more exotic type Ferraris. We’re talking about buying new right? Used purchases, whole different ballgame.

Uh, but they said all sorts of parameters. One of them being you can’t resell your Ferrari within a year, that type of thing. Well, and, and I, I, I know that I’m gonna say this wrong, but I’m gonna do it anyway because I don’t really know. Jason, do you know the, the dj, the, uh, dead mo dead, m a u five? How does he say his name? I, I don’t either. I I don’t know if it’s dead mouse or dead mouth five. I don’t know, right? But I don’t know. Anyway, that’s, that’s his name, right? D A D M A U, the number five, however you pronounce that. Anyway, he had a Ferrari. He actually, he got it wrapped and he put it on social media, and he had changed some of the badging on it and significantly changed the way the car looked based on the wrap and the stuff that he put on.

He called it like a Ferrari, I guess. He really likes cats. And so he had this like, jumping cat. It kind of reminded me, reminded me of the Puma logo, but it wasn’t the Puma logo. Um, but anyway, he had that, he replaced the Ferrari logo with that. Well, guess what? Ferrari goes Uhuh, you’re not allowed to do that. Cause it was on social media, right? Um, and quite frankly, it’s probably in their contract when they purchased the car, there’s a lot of parameters, but it was on social media. Dilutes the trademark. If you dilute and cheapen the trademark, you can be in trouble, right? Uh, there’s another designer, a a custom shoe designer who would use his Ferrari in his social media pictures. He’d, he’d, uh, match like the paint on the Ferrari to his shoes, and he would put it on social media with the Ferrari, you know, pretty prominently shown with the shoes.

And Ferrari said, Uhuh, we don’t want our cars used in that manner, right? We don’t want our trademark used in that manner. You’re diluting our trademark, okay? And that’s what we’re talking about when we’re talking about trademark infringement and the law. So yeah. Is every company going to be like Ferrari? No. Right? But can I tell you, I personally have done the same thing? Yeah, absolutely. Every once in a while I’ll see something pop up that says Law Father, right? Uh, I tell you, it, it was, there was a, a prominent law firm that tried to use it. I own the trademark for it, right? I own the trademark for law father. And I saw this law firm had done a post, set them a, it really, it was a cease and desist letter, but it was really very, it was really a very nice, like, I wasn’t trying to cause any problems.

I wasn’t being the jerk lawyer. It was just like, Hey, oh, by the way, you know, I own the trademark. You know, please, please take it down. Hey, if you wanna get lunch, like, let’s go get lunch, type of thing. Like that. That was the 10. I literally asked the, if the, uh, main owner there wanted to get lunch, um, that person did not respond, but, uh, the office did and they took it down. So that’s what we’re talking about. So you can end up with, with some things that go on in social media, not even necessarily realize it, right? So, I mean, do you really think the DJ dead mouth, dead mouth five, whatever his name is, right? Do you think he’s set out to go, Hey, I’m gonna trademark infringe on Ferrari? No. Right? Do you think the, the custom shoe designer, same thing?

No, absolutely not, right? Do you think the law firm set out to infringe on my trademark? No. Right? You know, it a, you’d have to go look every, every little piece up, right? So to know, right, that it, that it is a trademark, right? So, you know, you wouldn’t necessarily know that law father is trademarked. It is, right? So it’s up to me, it’s up to me and you, whoever owns a trademark to follow that and to know and to monitor social media for your trademark. Because if you don’t, someone may be using it without you knowing. And if they’re using it in a bad way, right? Or using it in a way that you wouldn’t want your trademark to be used, it can create problems, right? I mean, we all have certain images, right? And, and, you know, some of us just don’t want our trademarks associated with certain things, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.

It’s your trademark, it’s your brand. You should treat it like your own. And if it’s not, if there’s something going on that’s not right, you need to speak up about it, right? Because your Facebooks, your Instagrams, TikTok, uh, Twitter, they’re not responsible for tracking that, okay? Now, they all have an avenue for you to use all of the social media platforms. I don’t know about TikTok. I need to learn a lot more about TikTok, it turns out. But I know Facebook and Instagram both have a way that you can go on, you can go on through the regular web, or you can go in through the app and you can go, I need you to look at this. I need you to look at this handle because it’s infringing a trademark. Okay? Now, um, it, there’s just a lot of different moving parts. So, uh, the handles, right?

Instagram doesn’t necessarily, and, and Facebook as well, they don’t necessarily monitor the handles, right? So if you own a trademark like Law Father and someone has law father, unless they’re doing the same sort of thing that you are, right? Trademarks all have classes. So unless they’re advertising right through their posts, the same way, I don’t truly mean advertising, but posting in the same class that you are, that your trademark is in, they won’t do anything, right? If they’re in the same class, then there’s a better chance that they will. But it is on you as the owner of the trademark to protect your intellectual property, okay? Um, look, the, it, it just, it creates all these types of things, all, all these types of hurdles, and, and you just have to be very cognizant and aware of what they are and how those work. All right?

Uh, next, and this is a big thing, especially, you know, I’d say it, it’s, it’s probably a bigger thing with teenagers, but I think adults can kind of fall into this same, same concept, which is cyber bullying, right? And, and there are some laws in some states that, that do protect against this. You know, just keep in mind, you could be civilly liable for it, meaning that somebody could sue you and you could potentially have to pay money. In some places, there are criminal offenses that deal with it. So, you know, you may think, oh, well, I can say whatever I want because I’m talking on social media and I have a First Amendment right to do so, eh, maybe not. Okay? Um, there, the United States has the Communications Decency Act, and it provides some protections to the platforms. So, you know, basically what that’s saying is, is that if you sue somebody because of it, right?

Because of cyber bullying, most likely your TikTok, your Twitter, your Instagram, your, uh, TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, those, all those, right? They’re not generally responsible, right? They’d have to knowingly facilitate or enable the cyber bullying or harassment. That’s the, the general piece that they would have to do. Um, I, I mean, they would be foolish, absolutely foolish to help facilitate and enable that, but I, you know, I think it was Facebook actually that was up, and it, it may have been Facebook as the parent company, um, to Facebook and Twitter that had a congressional hearing. And a lot of it came down to kind, and, and I think they actually changed the, their algorithm after this, that essentially cyber bullying and this was, was being helped along by the things that were placed in front of people, right? So, just keep in mind that it’s not a free shot to just do whatever you want and be mean to people.

Um, I’ll tell you what social media is, is nasty. It just is like, I, I read the comments on, on my reels and things like that. It, I mean, people are just mean. They really are. Um, you know, it just is what it is. And, and you just have to accept that people are gonna be mean on social media because, you know, they’re, you know, telephone tough guys. We used to call ’em telephone tough guys. You know, you had TT t right? Telephone Tough Guys. Um, I guess what do we call ’em with when they’re keyboards? Is, is there a name fors? Uh, keyboard Warriors. Okay, look, you could be tough, you know, on a keyboard or electronically, but can you really back it up, right? So, and, and I think we can see a lot more of that in social media, and I think we as adults can recognize that a lot better than teenagers and young adults.

But I think adults can fall into that same trap. But just be aware of that and be careful. All right? Now let’s go all the way back to where we started, right? And we started with John Morant. John Morant got suspended by the NBA for 25 games, okay? Let’s not lose sight of the fact that athletes that play on professional sports teams are nothing more than employees and they work for an employer, okay? No different than the rest of us who have jobs. Yes, they make more money than most of us, and they do it doing something else, right? So they don’t sit at a desk all day, but they legitimately are, most of ’em are, I, I think, I don’t know of a league that doesn’t do it like this, that they are W2 employees, right? They are employees of whatever team they play for.

That’s it. The teams are illegal entities, right? If you look it up, you’ll see that they are illegal entities. They are an LLC or an Ink or a partnership, um, like the, the, um, green Bay Packers are a publicly traded entity, okay? So don’t lose sight of that fact and, and what employment law has said. Now, look, employment law does vary from state to state, right? So none of this is really specific, other than an overview of just knowing and understanding that there are some things that can get you fired, right? And for companies, really the number thing for a company to do is to have a strong policy in place. And by strong I just mean that it is worded, and it’s not vague. Like it’s, it’s very clear and concise as to what the rules are, right? And what the expectations are of employees, right?

If the expectation is that employees will not put the company in a bad light, will not use vulgarity, will not, uh, speak poorly about supervisors or other employees on social media, there’s nothing that says that a company can’t have rules against that, right? But there’s a national Labor Board case that discusses an employee who went on a ramp, basically about their supervisor using vulgarities and other things, and the company fired that person because of that. And what the National Labor Relations Board came back and said was, Uhuh, you don’t have a policy in place that really discusses that. And so you can’t just go and fire this person, even though maybe what they said was reprehensible, right? You still can’t fire them for it. So you gotta really be, as a business owner, you gotta be aware of that, right? As an employee, it’s not a good look to do something like that, right?

As an employee, it’s not a good look to bring a gun into a strip club. Um, that’s probably gonna get you suspended a bunch of games and you’re gonna lose a bunch of money, right? Um, for those of us in other jobs, I mean, it could get you fired, right? It really could. Um, if you work in a profession that’s regulated like the Florida bar and, um, you know, most, uh, medical doctors, there’s, there’s a, a regulatory board, right? If there’s an ethics component to it, there, there’s a chance that you could run a foul of, you know, the ethics component, right? Just like if your company has a policy and procedure, right? Most likely would say something along the lines of that you put the company in a bad light on social media, we can fire you, type of thing, right? Kind of a catchall.

And, and there was another case that was a teacher who kind of did the same thing. That the school board had some real, I don’t wanna say stringent, but the, the policies and procedures were really clear and concise and based on the posts, uh, of this teacher badmouthing the students that she had, that’s not, I mean, I don’t know why you would do that. Like, stop it. Don’t do something like that. It’s not right. But anyway, uh, she was fired and it was upheld because there are policies and procedures that protected against that. So really a lot of this comes down to just be smart on social media, right? It, if, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all. And if you wouldn’t say it in front of your mom, you probably shouldn’t say it on social media, right? Just think about all these things that, that we were taught growing up and, uh, don’t do ’em on social media, right? If you wouldn’t do it in real life, don’t do it on social media. You won’t run a foul of the civil laws and you won’t get sued and you won’t have all these other issues, right? So that is kind of the breakdown of social media and the

Law, the intersection of it. Uh, if you have any questions on it, please feel free. All you gotta do is reach out to me, dm me on Instagram. I do check that. I do have a team that checks it as well. Um, so we do stay on top of things. So, you know, uh, check us out on all of our social media for, uh, some tips and some other things. Great review and subscribe to this podcast. Uh, it does help me out a lot. Uh, anyway, if you enjoy this show, thanks for coming out. I appreciate you listening. You can check us out on YouTube. You can check us out on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Radio Influence. Big shout out to Radio Influence Law Father Out.