Category Archives: Blogging

CLE Course: Protecting Your Client’s Digital Assets

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People are increasingly living their lives online. Whether it’s through Facetime, gmail, Facebook, eBay, NetFlix… our lives become increasingly more digital everyday. But what happens to your client’s digital footprint – their digital estate – when they pass away? Your client’s digital assets must be accounted for and protected in their estate plan or their loved ones may simply lose access to sentimental and valuable digital assets.

Digital Assets

  • Do you know what accounts are valuable virtual assets?
  • Do you even know what a digital asset is?
  • What are your client’s wishes with their Facebook, PayPal or iTunes account when they pass away?
  • Have you preserved access to crucial email & social media communications?

Estate planning now goes way beyond protecting the house and family heirlooms – are you prepared to protect your client’s digital assets?

To learn more about how you can protect your clients in the digital age, join Rich Martin as he discusses the various types of digital assets and current & proposed legislation that is intended to help protect people’s digital assets and estates. The main topics discussed in this CLE course include the legal uncertainty around the possession & conveyance of digital assets, client recognition of digital assets, digital estate planning and staying compliant.  To access this CLE course please click here: Digital Asset Landscape: Preparation for Changes in Legislation.

Additional topics discussed in this CLE course:

  • The growth of the Internet & world wide web
  • The value of domain names
  • Categories of digital assets
  • Valuable online accounts
  • State & federal law
  • The Stored Communications Act (SCA)
  • The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)
  • United States v. Swartz
  • The Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (UFADAA)
  • The Privacy Expectations Afterlife and Choices Act (PEAC)
  • Revised UFADDA
  • Creating a plan with the client
  • Sample language to include in wills & trusts
  • Additional legal issues
  • Clauses and estate planning documents

Richard Martin is the founder and CEO of Directives Online. Directives Online provides emergency access to advance directives, healthcare Power of Attorney, HIPPA forms, POLST orders and many more important documents and forms. During the past twenty-five years, Rich has earned promotions, honors, and awards for boosting profits, market share, and client satisfaction in the sales and marketing of technology and medical products.

This CLE course is offered in the following states:

  • Alaska (AK)
  • Arizona (AZ)
  • California (CA)
  • Connecticut (CT)
  • District of Columbia (DC)
  • Illinois (IL)
  • Maryland (MD)
  • Massachusetts (MA)
  • Michigan (MI)
  • Missouri (MO)
  • New Hampshire (NH)
  • New Jersey (NJ)
  • New York (NY)
  • North Dakota (ND)
  • Pennsylvania (PA)
  • South Dakota (SD)

Attorney Credits offers CLE for attorneys in California and around the country. For more information about CLE in California please click the following link: CA CLE.

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CLE Course on Legal Ethics and Evolving Technology

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Are you required to keep hard copies of all your blog posts? Can you ethically post the big verdict from your trial on your website? Can you counsel clients to remove embarrassing photos from their Facebook page two weeks before trial? What if your friend endorses you for Maritime Law on LinkedIn… but you’re a family law attorney?

Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram… every new day seems to bring a new social media website and a new electronic fad. How can attorneys harness these new technologies in their legal practice without running afoul of the ethical rules?

It is now your ethical duty to be competent when using new digital technologies. Email and Facebook are not going away – they are now a part of your legal practice. However, as these new technologies evolve so rapidly, the ethics rules struggle to keep up. In this CLE course, attorney Ed McIntyre provides a practical discussion of your evolving ethical duties in light of emerging technologies. The main ethical issues discussed include: communicating electronically with clients, the ethics of cybersleuthing and counseling clients to delete information from social media accounts. To access the course please click here: What Me Worry? Professional Responsibility, Evolving Technology and Why I Might.

Additional subjects covered in this legal ethics course:

  • The ABA Model Rules
  • California Rules of Professional Conduct
  • The Duty of Competence
  • The Duty of Confidentiality
  • The Duty of Communication
  • The legal advertising rules
  • Ethical issues associated with websites
  • Blogs & twitter
  • Disclaimers
  • Confidentiality & social media
  • Website submissions & the attorney-client relationship
  • Friending parties & individuals involved in litigation
  • The no contact rule
  • Suppression of evidence
  • The ethics of LinkedIn endorsements

A veteran trial attorney, Edward J. McIntyre practices complex business litigation in federal and state courts. An expert on the topic of professional responsibility, he also now advises and represents attorneys on issues of professional responsibility, risk mitigation and professional negligence issues. He testifies as an expert witness in court, writes a monthly column on professional responsibility in the San Diego Lawyer Magazine and frequently lectures on this topic. He is also a member and chair of the San Diego County Bar Association Legal Ethics Committee and received the 2013 Top Lawyers of San Diego distinction.

This CLE course is offered in the following states:

  • Alaska(AK)
  • Arizona (AZ)
  • California (CA)
  • Connecticut (CT)
  • District of Columbia (DC)
  • Illinois (IL)
  • Maryland (MD)
  • Massachusetts (MA)
  • Michigan (MI)
  • New Hampshire (NH)
  • New Jersey (NJ)
  • New York (NY)
  • North Dakota (ND)
  • Pennsylvania (PA)
  • South Dakota (SD)

Attorney Credits offers CLE for attorneys in California and around the country. For more information about CLE in California please click the following link: CA CLE.

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CLE Course: Legal Ethics of Online Legal Advertising

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Almost every attorney and law firm utilizes numerous online resources to provide legal information to the public and advertise services to potential clients. However, while numerous attorneys and firms rely on websites and social media to grow their businesses, many don’t give a second thought to the fact that their online activities could run afoul of the ethical rules on attorney advertising. Firm websites, Facebook, Twitter, Quora, LinkedIn, Quora and other social media platforms all pose significant ethical risks for lawyers who may be inappropriately or even inadvertently advertising to or soliciting clients online.

The following Model Rules will be discussed:

  • Model Rule 7.1 – false & misleading communications, required disclaimers
  • Model Rule 7.3 – solicitations
  • Model Rule 4.4 – transactions with persons other than clients
  • Model Rule 8.4 – integrity of the profession

In this legal ethics course, attorney Ken Matejka points out the ethical issues created by your online content and shows you how to fulfill your ethical duties when advertising and offering legal information on your law firm website, social media websites and other online resources like AVVO and Yelp. The five main topics that Ken discusses include false & misleading communications, solicitations, required disclaimers, privacy policies and eliciting online reviews. To access the course please click here – A Tangled Web: Ethical Issues Created by Your Online Legal Content.

Additional issues covered in this CLE course:

  • Providing legal information/legal advice
  • Case results
  • Specialists
  • Guarantees
  • Establishing the attorney-client relationship online
  • Online Q & A websites
  • Contingency fees & costs
  • ABA Formal Opinion No. 10-457
  • Recommended elements for a valid disclaimer
  • Recommended placement for disclaimers
  • Unencrypted email & the attorney-client privilege
  • The integrity of the profession

Ken Matejka is a California attorney and a former member of the ABA’s Standing Committee on Lawyer Referral and Information Services (LRIS). For seventeen years, he worked at the Lawyer Referral and Information Service of the Bar Association of San Francisco and in 2006, co-founded LegalPPC, an Internet Services Company dedicated to helping lawyers and lawyer referral services get more clients from Google. Ken has been a regular presenter at events like the ABA’s Annual LRIS Workshop and for attorneys across California on the topic of online visibility and lead generation for the solo practitioner’s law practice. LegalPPC currently provides Internet services to about 20 bar associations and a large number of law firms nationwide.

This CLE course is offered in the following states:

  • Alaska (AK)
  • Arizona (AZ)
  • California (CA)
  • Connecticut (CT)
  • District of Columbia (DC)
  • Illinois (IL)
  • Maryland (MD)
  • Massachusetts (MA)
  • Michigan (MI)
  • New Hampshire (NH)
  • New Jersey (NJ)
  • New York (NY)
  • North Dakota (ND)
  • Pennsylvania (PA)
  • South Dakota (SD)

Attorney Credits offers continuing legal education (CLE) for attorneys in California and around the country. For more information about CLE in California please click the following link: CA CLE.

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CLE Course: Ethics of Cloud Computing

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Welcome to the digital age! The use of cloud computing technologies offers lawyers and law firms alike distinct advantages in terms of cost savings, flexibility & mobility, ease of use and more efficient client service. However, because cloud computing places data – namely confidential client information – on remote servers outside of the lawyer’s direct control, it has given rise to some serious concerns regarding its acceptability under applicable ethics rules. For these reasons, attorneys must be cognizant of their ethical duties when selecting an appropriate vendor and deploying cloud technologies in their practice.

Your law firm would like to take advantage of new technologies like “The Cloud” … but is it safe? How can you be sure you are fulfilling your ethical duties to your client to protect their confidential information?

If you have questions about utilizing cloud technologies in your practice while still maintaining ethical standards of practice then join intellectual property attorney Robert Cogan as he describes what the Cloud is and how you can use this new technology without running afoul of the ethics rules. By taking this course you will reach a basic level of familiarity with what the Cloud is in the context of law practice, be able to identify the ethical obligations that must be met in use of the Cloud, learn the actions the attorney must take in exercising due care when selecting a vendor, recognize significant security vulnerabilities that are not a function of Cloud use and take steps to address these security vulnerabilities. To access the course please click here: Ethics of Cloud Computing.

Additional topics addressed include:

  • Pertinent terms
  • Rules of professional conduct
  • Services
  • SAS
  • Advantages of using the Cloud
  • State ethics opinions
  • ABA opinions & Model Rules
  • Client confidentiality
  • Competence
  • Questions to consider
  • Knowledge requirements for non-technical attorneys
  • Terms of service
  • Practical care
  • Non-technical considerations
  • Social engineering
  • Phishing
  • Trojan horses
  • General guidance

Robert P. Cogan is a business and intellectual property lawyer with over 35 years of experience in both corporate and private practice as well as experience in operating management. His previous experience includes fourteen years as chief patent counsel of a Fortune 200 Company, where he managed the development and enforcement of worldwide patent and trademark portfolios. He has negotiated multimillion dollar agreements, including software licenses, distributorships and joint research projects. Mr. Cogan also has extensive experience in contracting with government agencies including Department of Defense, NASA, and NIH, as well as state agencies.

This CLE course on elder law is currently accredited in the following states:

  • Alaska (AK)
  • Arizona (AZ)
  • California (CA)
  • Connecticut (CT)
  • District of Columbia (DC)
  • Illinois (IL)
  • Maryland (MD)
  • Massachusetts (MA)
  • Michigan (MI)
  • New Jersey (NJ)
  • New York (NY)
  • Pennsylvania (PA)
  • South Dakota (SD)

Attorney Credits offers continuing legal education (CLE) for attorneys in New York and around the country. For more information about CLE in New York please click the following link: NY CLE.

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CLE Course: Online Security & Risk Basics for Attorneys

We now live in the digital era – an era of social media, mobile phones & devices and being connected and online 24/7. There are many benefits for attorneys and law firms that adopt and utilize online technology to enhance their practice and provide more cost-effective and efficient service to their clients. Unfortunately, there are numerous risks that are involved with utilizing online technologies as well.

“Which risks are relevant?  Those that impact business goals.  Which risks impact business goals?  They all do.” – Deborah Gonzalez

In this new CLE course, Deborah Gonzales of Law2SM presents the tools and resources that you need to better understand the security and reputational risks of online and digital activity for attorneys and how to mitigate those risks to minimize potential losses. The focus of Online Security & Risk Basics for Attorneys is to present security and risk management best practices that address major concerns for attorneys in our new online environment.

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There is a wealth of practical information presented in this course and Ms. Gonzalez provides numerous practice points for attorneys to adopt in their everyday practice to minimize online risks.  The main topics addressed include setting the context of our new digital world, mobile devices, apps & BYOD, reputational risk, big data, content management/marketing, compliance and what you can do to mitigate your risk.

Further issues addressed in this CLE course include:

  • The relevant risks
  • Digital threats
  • Social media/online risk
  • Online security
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Sources of risk
  • Why risks happen
  • Crafting a social media policy
  • The NLRB’s (National Labor Relations Board) role in regulation
  • The 5 C’s
  • Monitoring risks
  • Suggested alerts
  • Metadata/geo-tagging
  • Protecting your online identity
  • Compliance with rules & regulations
  • The SEC regulations
  • FTC & compliance
  • Disclaimers
  • The FCC & net neutrality
  • COPPA (Children’s’ Online Privacy Protection Act)
  • The compliance toolkit
  • Audits & assessment
  • SLA™ Risk Assessment
  • Protecting yourself and your firm through insurance coverage

The founder of Law2SM, Deborah Gonzalez is an attorney whose legal practice focuses on music, art, entertainment, digital, social media and online law. She obtained her JD from New York Law School and is licensed to practice in both New York and in Georgia. Her clients include galleries, museums, artists & art professionals, animators, filmmakers, musicians & music professionals, authors, and various other creative professionals. Ms. Gonzalez is a member of the Georgia Production Partnership, Georgia Entertainment Association, Women in Animation, and the Entertainment Law sections of the Georgia and New York Sate Bar Associations. She speaks at various industry conferences around the world, such as SEIGE CON and SIAF, on legal issues and concerns for artists of all genres.  Attorney Credits offers continuing legal education (CLE) for attorneys in Illinois and around the country. To access more information about Illinois CLE please click the following link: IL CLE:

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Introducing Legal Ink Magazine!

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How does a social media canvass affect my cases?  What is eLawyering?  What steps should I take to manage my online reputation?  Should I buy the wool or searsucker suit?  What should I have for lunch?

The use of social media throughout the employment cycle is becoming more common.  Policies, standards, and best practices are being developed and implemented to reduce potential litigation alleging discrimination, wrongful termination, or invasion of privacy.                – Deborah Gonzalez, Building an Effective Social Media Policy

Attorneys are faced with a myriad of questions everyday that affect their practice – from the critical to the somewhat mundane.  So we launched an online magazine to further serve and benefit you in your practice.  We also have a number of companies contributing to the magazine – including LegalEase, CosmoLex and DirectLaw to name a few – to help provide insight on a number of different topics, from trends in the law to legal technology.

Legal Ink Magazine’s mission is to provide new insight into the ever-changing business of law.  We hope to provide our readers with the information they need to run their practice more effectively, increase client satisfaction, and better manage their work/life balance.

Our goal with Legal Ink magazine is to provide fresh insight into the rapidly evolving business and practice of law.  The mission is to provide attorneys around the country with the information and resources they need to run their practices more efficiently & effectively, increase client service, and better manage their work/life balance.  Hopefully, Legal Ink can help to provide answers to some of your pressing questions and make those tough decisions that much easier.

To access Legal Ink magazine please click here: Legal Ink.

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CLE Course: Ten Social Media Myths for Attorneys

Social media has changed society and along with it the practice of law.  Those attorneys who previously adopted the “Ostrich” approach – burying their heads in the sand and hoping it would all go away – must pull their head out and learn to adapt to our new Web 2.0 world.

It is now apparent that social media is not a fad – it is a paradigm shift.  Like email, Twitter and Facebook are here to stay … and that’s just the beginning.  There are currently over 400 social media websites and the list continues to grow every month.

Web 2.0 World

Social media is not just for teenagers and college kids anymore, companies and professionals now utilize social media for many business purposes.  Attorneys must be cognizant of social media and the legal issues that it presents in order to avoid legal liability and ethical violations in their own practice, and to fully counsel the clients they represent.

If you need help understanding the complex intersection of social media and the law, we have just added an excellent CLE course entitled Ten Social Media Myths for Attorneys.  In this extremely current and informative CLE course, Deborah Gonzalez of Law2sm provides an extremely comprehensive overview of the legal issues created by social media.  This course delves beyond merely introductory social media concepts and goes in-depth into complex legal social media issues so that attorneys are better able to counsel their clients.  The main areas addressed by Ms. Gonzalez include what is social media, ten principal social media myths for attorneys and resources for attorneys.

Further topics discussed include:

  • The many forms of social media
  • The new digital world
  • Why attorneys & professionals use social media
  • The principles of social media
  • Ethical rules that apply to social media use by attorneys
  • Disclaimers
  • Trademark protection
  • The FTC & false credentials
  • Astroturfing
  • Twitter-jacking
  • Cyber-stalking
  • Privacy
  • Employment law issues
  • The criminal system & the right to a fair trial
  • Digital legacy
  • Digital assets
  • State & federal laws impacting social media

Deborah Gonzalez is an attorney whose legal practice focuses on art, music, entertainment, digital, social media and online law.  She is licensed to practice in both New York and Georgia, and her clients include museums, galleries, artists & art professionals, animators, filmmakers, musicians & music professionals, authors, and various other creative professionals.  Ms. Gonzalez is the legal advisor to the Georgia Music Industry Association and currently serves on the board of Women in Film & Television Atlanta.  She is also a member of the Georgia Entertainment Association, Georgia Production Partnership, Women in Animation, and the Entertainment Law sections of the Georgia and New York Sate Bar Associations.  She speaks at various industry conferences around the world – such as SEIGE CON and SIAF – on legal issues and concerns for artists of all genres.

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Law Blogs … Here to Stay

It was only last year when I overheard this comment between a couple of seasoned practitioners at a CLE event: “Well, I guess I have to go out and get an email account … because that email thing isn’t going away!”  Yes, I did almost spit out my morning coffee when I heard this – although I was luckily able to refrain and simply offer a small chuckle under my breath.

There was a bit of facetiousness to the comment … but there was also bit of seriousness.  These attorneys have probably seen quite a few advancements in their years of practice, from the fax machine to Personal Computers.  Somewhere deep inside, I think that last thing this attorney wanted to do was adapt to a new technology in the last few years of his career.

One thing that is apparent in 2012 is that law blogs are here to stay – and they have come a long way since the early days of Web 2.0.[1]  We have come so far in fact, that the ATL blog (Above the Law) even found it’s way to the top of the Business Insider’s 15 Most Influential Law Blogs.  All the way to #2 in fact.

Like many technological advancements in the legal community, blogs have taken a little bit of time to catch on.  But at this point in time, blogs, tweets and ‘friending’ have become firmly entrenched in our online society. These are no longer fads … Facebook and blogging are now part of the legal landscape as well – just like courts, depositions and angry judges.

To check to see if any of your favorite blogs made the Business Insiders Top 15 Most Influential Law Blogs, please click here.   And to learn more about law blogs, take a look at what Kevin O’Keefe is doing over at LexBlog.


[1] For an incredibly great (and entertaining read) see “What Is Web 2.0” by Tim O’Reily

http://oreilly.com/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html

Beware of Online Juror Contact

Web 2.0 has made it much easier to communicate with friends, relatives and fellow attorneys.  But the Internet and Web 2.0 have also created numerous new ethical traps.

For example, many attorneys have recently turned to Google and Facebook to research both potential and sitting jurors. However, attorneys must be very careful to avoid ex parte contact with jurors online.  And ex parte contact can be widely construed according to a recent ethics opinion from the New York City Bar Association.

“If an attorney cannot ascertain the functionality of a website, the attorney must proceed with great caution in conducting research on that particular site, and should keep in mind the possibility that even an accidental, automated notice to the juror could be considered a violation.”

Formal Opinion 2012-2 states that even if an attorney unknowingly or inadvertently “causes a communication with a juror,” such conduct could possibly afoul of the state’s professional conduct rules. And as stated in numerous ethics opinions, attorneys must not use deception to obtain information about potential and sitting jurors. Some attorneys have used other associates and paralegals to send ‘friend’ requests on Facebook to gain access to a juror’s Facebook page.  This is considered deceptive and unethical conduct.

Attorneys ethical duties have become more clouded in the era of Facebook, Google and Twitter.  The New York ethics opinion should serve as guidance in the abscene of rules that directly address the conduct.  Ethics opinions carry a lot of weight with courts and regulators around the country and even if you don’t practice in New York these are valuable resources.

For more information on the subject, click the following links:

We also have an excellent CLE course on the subject featuring Patrick Eckstrom and John Stahmer.  The course in entitled Ethics in a Web 2.0 world and it is accredited for 1 credit hour of legal ethics.

Juror Privacy … Or a Fair Trial?

By Jason Castillo, Director of Legal Education

There is a major conflict brewing in our American legal system.  The conflict pits the electronic privacy rights of jurors against the Sixth Amendment and the right to a fair trial for criminal defendants.  And last week a California Appeals Court decision bolstered the Sixth Amendment – while possibly undermining the SCA and juror privacy.[1] 

In Juror Number One v. Superior Court (Royster) a Third District Court of Appeal panel ruled that a juror who wrote on his Facebook page about the criminal trial must consent to having his online postings turned over to the trial judge for review to determine whether his misconduct was prejudicial against the defendant.  Juror No. 1 argued unsuccessfully that the compelled consent to the release of his Facbook postings violated his Fourth & Fifth Amendment rights, as well as the Stored Communications Act (SCA).  The SCA is a federal law that limits government access to online communications.

Many commentators believe that the Third Circuit’s decision is the first of its kind.  In reaching the decision the Third District reasoned that the SCA only protects third parties like Facebook from being compelled to disclose information such as Juror No. 1’s postings.  Therefore, Juror No. 1 has no protections under the statute. Many privacy advocates claim that this ruling violates the spirit of the SCA – a statute Congress enacted “to fill a gap in the protections afforded by the Fourth Amendment.”[2]

“With smartphones and mobile devices now ever present in our society, jurors around the country simply can’t resist Google mapping the crime scene or updating their Twitter and Facebook accounts with information about the trial.”

However, it does seem as though many jurors have a problem resisting the urge to tweet, blog and Facebok facts and opinions about their case.[3]  Frustrated judges around the country have watched numerous trials compromised by juror’s electronic misconduct.  These judges have turned tried a few different actions to try and preserve defendants Sixth Amendment rights – including contempt findings, confiscating smartphones and enhanced jury instructions.

The Third District’s ruling may present California judges with a new opportunity during jury instructions to warn jurors not to post to social media websites during trial, and that if they do their writings may be subject to inquiry.  But will this be enough?  New York recently amended its jury instructions to advise against electronic communications in criminal cases, but these provisions do not necessarily apply in civil cases.[4]

“… the extent of Juror Number One‟s ‘legitimate expectation of privacy’ under the Fourth Amendment would depend on the extent to which his wall postings are disseminated to others or are available to Facebook or others for targeted advertising.” – Justice Hall

The court dismissed the Fourth Amendment claims because Juror No. 1 had no “legitimate expectation of privacy in the records.”  While many privacy advocates feel this ruling unfairly intrudes into a juror’s privacy and the SCA, the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial trumps these minor instrusions.[5]  Further, if Juror No. 1 did not want the government delving into his electronic affairs he should have listened to the jury instructions – and stayed off Facebook!

I previously blogged about this case back in April (See: Should One Facebook Post Merit a New Trial?)


[1] The appeals court concluded that the juror’s “privacy rights do not trump [the defendant’s] right to a fair trial free from juror misconduct.”

[2] Juror Number One v. Superior Court (Royster).

[3] See Commonwealth v. Werner, 2012 Mass. App. LEXIS 183 (Ct. App. Mass 2012) (new trial denied without waiting for Facebook to respond to subpoena); People v. Wilson, 93 AD 3d 483 (1st Dept. 2012) (juror made Facebook postings advising she was on a jury and her friends made “foolish” replies relating to trials in general but juror said she was not affected by these comments and decided the case impartially).

[4] See CPL §270.40, Rev’d Jury Admonitions, (Rev’d May 5, 2009) (revised to include warning regarding use of electronic devices).

[5] Further, you would have to be a fool to think you have privacy in a social network in today’s day and age.  There is almost no reasonable expectation of privacy for things you post online.