Patrick McPartland/Staff Photographer - Attorney Leslie Mark Greenbaum talks about some of the legal issues involved with social media sites during his presentation at the Social Media 2012 conference at Hilbert College, Hamburg. Greenbaum is an attorney with Gross, Shuman, Brizdle & Gilfillan P.C.
Hilbert College in Hamburg hosted a conference on March 6 which featured presentations on different aspects of social media, including its history, trends and law. The conference titled “Social Media 2012” was the first of its kind for the Catholic college, which is based in the Franciscan tradition.
“A conference about something like this might be something that a UB or a Buffalo State might cover,” said Chris Gallant, digital media and communications department associate professor. “I think that there are a lot of communication and business programs in a lot of the small, Catholic colleges so we’re just trying to become more conversant in this area. I think it just helps to have a conference like this.”
Dr. Ramona SantaMaria, associate professor at Buffalo State’s computer information systems department, kicked off the three-hour event with a presentation on the history of social media.
“As social beings, we want to connect with other people,” SantaMaria said, before explaining the development of social media from the 1960s to the present.
Two of the presentations focused on the legal side of social media, which is often overlooked by individuals and businesses eager to use social media platforms to their advantage. Leslie Mark Greenbaum, an attorney at Gross, Shuman, Brizdle & Gilfillan PC, spoke about the usage of trademarks and copyrighted materials in social media.
“Before you use something, consider the purpose for which you are using it – is it for academic or is it for a non-commercial use and might you need permission to use this material before you post it on Facebook or YouTube,” he said. “And on the other side of the coin, if you are giving permission to someone to use your name, your picture, your portrait, your material, find out what it’s going to be used for.”
Carolyn Human, an account manager at Travers Collins, and Trevor Torcello, an attorney at Gross, Shuman, Brizdle & Gilfillan PC, focused on the business side of social media, addressing issues like developing a social media policy, supervisors “friending” subordinates, and employees using company computers to update their social media accounts.
“You might think these policies don’t really matter, but at the end of the day they can save you from substantial litigation,” Torcello said.
Author Kevin Purdy, who has written two books on technology, spoke about the future of social media.
“I hope social media becomes more boring and just kind of automatic – it becomes something that just flows from you out and the context is provided automatically and you don’t have to fear that you are doing something wrong,” he said.
Near the end of the event, attendees were invited to ask questions during a panel discussion. In keeping with the spirit of the conference, video of the conference was streamed live online and audio feed was available on Hilbert’s web radio station. Attendees and off-campus viewers were able to ask questions using Facebook and Twitter. Attendees were also given time to network.
Gallant said that all students, but particularly those studying communications, need to understand the role that social media plays in business and the professional workplace.
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