Millions of bloggers, tweeters, and forum posters appreciate the free-wheeling nature of online communication, but a growing number are learning that free speech sometimes has a steep price. As Santa Clara University’s Eric Goldman emphasizes in this helpful overview article, “Most people have no idea of the liability they face when they publish something online.”
Anonymity is no safeguard, either. Even anonymous posters have been sued for negative remarks after the websites on which they left comments were forced to reveal their identities.
These legal and ethical issues in online communication offer intriguing and sometimes troubling examples to discuss with students. To find cases to cover in class, a good place to start is the “Legal Threats Database” maintained by the Citizen Media Law Project.
We’d love to hear about your experiences teaching online ethics, etiquette, and associated legal matters as part of a business communication course.