How to combat online shaming

The ability to use social media to shame and hurt people online is called online shaming. You may have heard of versions of online shaming going by names like cyber bullying or revenge porn. Although you may be aware of online shaming, many of us still feel helpless to stop it. Technology has the power to transform people’s lives, but in the wrong hands, it can be used to destroy lives.

One story that captured the attention of the world was that of Tyler Clementi. On Sept. 22, 2010 Tyler went to the George Washington Bridge connecting New York City and New Jersey, and updated his Facebook status: “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry.” The day before, Tyler’s roommate had posted a video of Tyler being intimate with another man without Tyler’s knowledge. The public humiliation was too unbearable for Tyler and he made the decision to end his life.

Tyler’s family took steps to help ensure that online shaming like what happened to Tyler would be addressed. “When we started the foundation, one of the reasons was because we had media attention,” says Jane Clementi.”So many people saw what was going on and no one spoke up,” she says. “No one reached out to Tyler.”

The Tyler Clementi Foundation focuses on helping adults clearly communicate their expectations for respectful behavior. They believe in  turning bystanders into “upstanders” who won’t condone bullying, no matter where it takes place. Since 2011, the Clementi family has spoken to thousands of people about not only calling out harassment, but also comforting and helping the victim. But awareness is not enough to solve the problem. That’s why the foundation partnered with New York Law School to launch the Tyler Clementi Institute for CyberSafety last fall. The institute helps give legal advice and council to parents dealing with cyber bullying, as well as victims of nonconsensual porn, another term for revenge porn or cyber exploitation.

Removing nonconsensual porn has gotten somewhat easier in the last year thanks to Internet and social media companies like Google, Twitter and Facebook adopting streamlined request processes. (In contrast, though, content that merely bullies breaks no laws; the threshold to successfully report and remove such comments is much higher.) In the past, the online shaming was confined to certain forums and message boards. But the rise of social media over the last decade has amplified the effects. Social media “can be easily exploited for shaming,” said Gabriella Coleman, a professor at New York University who studies media and culture. “It’s a good platform.”

In 2009, Brett Ligon, the newly elected district attorney in Montgomery County, Tex., decided to post on Twitter the names of drivers arrested on charges of drunken driving. He wanted to send a message that drunken driving would not be tolerated while he was district attorney. But not everyone was pleased. A handful of people who were named on Twitter complained to The Houston Chronicle after they found out their drunken driving arrests had been widely broadcasted. “I haven’t been proven guilty,” Linda Owens told the newspaper in January. “What happened to our rights?”

So what can you do about online shame? If you are a victim of cyberbullying or revenge porn make sure to keep records of what you are receiving. Giving the police urls and content may allow them to trace the IP address of your attacker. If pictures are involved, remember that pictures carry copyrights. If the picture is a selfie then you may be able to force the pictures off of sites since it violates copyright law. Online shame is not always a crime, as our laws have not yet caught up to our online environments. This is slowly being rectified as over half of all states now have revenge porn laws and legislation meant to ban revenge porn nationally is being pushed through congress.

The most important thing that any of us can do is be an “upstander“. Speak up when you see someone being harrassed. Stop the spread of malicious materials online. Don’t forget to comfort the victim and make sure that they know they are supported.

 

Article via Mashable, 21 February 2016; The New York Times,26 December 2010; Wired, 24 July 2013; DeleteCyberbullying; EndRevengePorn.org

Photo: Cyber Bullying: Hand Reach by iris [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


How to hire a lawyer

When starting a new business it is a good move to look for and hire a lawyer. Not only are there tax concerns and legal paperwork to deal with, but having the advice of counsel can come in handy with many businesses. A good business attorney will give you guidance about things such as zoning compliance, trademark and copyright rules, lawsuits and liability.

Like doctors, lawyers have also become highly specialized. When looking for the right lawyer for your business, here are some skills to look for:

  1. Contracts You will need an attorney that can prepare and understand standard contracts. These will include contracts that you need for clients and customers as well as those that other parties may want you to sign.
  2. Business Organization Your lawyer can help you decide the right business organization. Some businesses are an LLC (Limited Liability Corp.) while others are incorporated. This designation is important to your taxes and the way that you will do business.
  3. Real Estate When it comes time to lease a work space you will need an attorney to help you understand and negotiate these documents. Often, leases are in favor of the landlord. The right lawyer may find ways to make the lease more beneficial for you and your growing business.
  4. Taxes and licenses You may have an accountant that is handling your taxes. But your lawyer should be able to register your business for federal and state tax identification numbers and understand how your taxes will be effected by basic business actions.
  5. Intellectual property This skill is coming into more demand with the advent of so many internet businesses. The vastness of IP law means that you may have to consult with a specialist if you have a particular need. Nevertheless, your attorney should be able to advice you when that need arises and have some contacts that can assist you when the time comes.

Now that you know why you should hire a lawyer, where should you start? A great place to begin is the American Bar Association. There are also commercial lawyer referral services that will help you find a lawyer near you.  Hiring a lawyer is crucial to any successful business so don’t wait until its too late to get started.

Article via Entreprenuer

Photo JBC Legal – Business Photoshoot by Siomara M. [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Automate your law practice

David Sparks is famous for being a successful lawyer and a technology geek. He explains how he mixes both law and technology to make a unique practice. “I use technology to make my practice run faster and more smoothly. Nothing that I do is impossible for another lawyer to do and everything I do can be accomplished using either technology or manpower. Technology doesn’t give me something no one else has — but because of it my practice is much more lean, and, among other things, gives me an edge in terms of pricing.”

To keep his law practice running lean, automation is the answer. When asked why he automated his law firm he replied, “First, there’s efficiency—it’s much faster. When you have the computer doing something for you, you no longer have to type out words or take time to manually file documents on your computer. Second, it’s more accurate. The computer is doing the task, so for example, as long as you set up the rules correctly, the computer is always going to name files properly.”

Here are some of the tools that he uses to automate his workflow:

Hazel

Hazel is software for mac that is designed to clean and organize files in the background while you work.

I automate my firm’s documents using Hazel. So when I scan a document into my computer, the document is automatically saved in OCT format and then Hazel reads it and can identify clients, dates, etc., and will name the file and file it away for me in my system,” he says.

TextExpander for Mac

TextExpander allows you to create custom abbreviations that, once typed, will expand to full words or images.

“With TextExpander, when I’m drafting discovery documents — for example the list of 5 contention questions we use in California — I have created text expanders so I can type in the bits that are different in each case and TextExpander automatically creates and generates the questions for me. I was going to hire a paralegal to do this for me, but realized it’d be more efficient and more cost effective for the client to accomplish this task using automation.”

Sparks ends with some advice about bringing more technology into your practice. “My standard advice to lawyers is don’t be afraid of technology. It can make you a better lawyer and can save you a lot of money.”

Article via Above the Law, 23 July 2015

Photo: The Lawyer by Ard van der Leeuw [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Legaltech trade show tips

Legaltech is the most important legal tech trade show of the year.  It is the number 1 resource for law firms and professionals to get the latest information for law practice management. The next show is scheduled for February 2-4 2016 in New York City. If you plan on attending, this post is meant to give you a few tips to get the most out of the conference. These are tips coming from Legal tech marketers on having a great experience at Legaltech this year.

1. Get started early

Get in touch with your contacts before you get to the conference. Make appointments now so that you will have an agenda of people to meet with when you arrive.

2. Start updating your social media feeds

Social media can be a powerful way to make connections with those that you know and those that you don’t yet know. When it comes to big events like this, it is inevitable that those within your industry will be abuzz with information leading up to the show. Use this as an opportunity to bring attention to your legal business and yourself.

3. Attend editors’ and bloggers’ breakfast

These are free events so there is nothing to lose. It will also give you the chance to be exposed to thought leaders in the industry as well as learn about what is coming next. You will get access to dynamic editorial and leadership teams, as well as entrepreneurs working in your industry.

4. Write about your experience

You can write anything from a blog post on your company site to a series of tweets. What is important is sharing your experience. This will not only give you the chance to attract an audience of curious colleagues, but this will also give you another chance to bring attention to your own practice or firm.

Article via LegalTechNews, 14 January 2016

Photo: Tech cocktail conference crowd by Frank Gruber [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


How encryption works

Internet security is an important topic to address for anyone who surfs the web. Many of us want to be sure that our private data is being handled securely. The most popular way to protect our data online is through encryption. Encryption of data simply means that the information is encoded so that it can only be read by a key used to decode it. It sounds like super spy stuff, and in a way it is (that is a German enigma machine pictured above). In this article, we will discuss some of the ways that encryption is used to protect our data on the internet.

Computer encryption is based on cryptography, the practice and study of techniques to secure information. If you have ever heard of the Caesar cipher, that is a form of encryption. In our modern era, computers are generating complex algorithms that are used as the ciphers that crack the code.

There are two main modes of encryption: symmetric key and public key.

Symmetric key encryption

Caesar_Cipher
Caesar Cipher by prize Lerthirunvibul

The Caesar cipher is a great example of this. A letter is written to a friend, but all the words are spelled out by rotating the letter in the alphabet 4 spaces. This makes the letter nonsensical to anyone who intercepts it. But the friend it was written to knows the code (shift 4 spaces) and can therefore decode the letter.

The same happens in computing. Each computer has a secret code. The is a packet of information that is transported between the two computers. Once the transfer is complete the second computer decodes the encrypted packet.

Examples of this type of encryption: Hard drives, Private networks

 

Public key encryption

public key encryption
PublicKeyEncryption by Kalani Hausman

Sometimes this is called asymmetric key encryption. The main difference here is that each party does not have the same code to encrypt the message. Instead this method uses two different keys at once, a public key and a private key. The private key is know only to your computer. While, the public key is given to any computer that may want to communicate with it.

To decode a message a computer must use the public key (provided by the computer that it is communicating with) and it’s own private key.

In the example, Sally wants to send Bill a message. To do that, Sally needs to use Bill’s public key which is available to anyone. When Sally uses the public key it encrypts the message so that no one can read it. The only way that Bill will be able to see the message is when he uses his private key, the one that only he has (and is the only way to decode the encryption).

The message is available to anyone because all you need is the public key to pick it up. But, you won’t be able to read that message without a private key. The keys are a long string of numbers, and since they are based only on prime numbers, it makes this system very secure.

Examples of this type of encryption: Digital banking, Secure websites(https, SSL)

Photo Caesar Cipher by prize Lerthirunvibul

Photo PublicKeyEncryption by Kalani Hausman

Photo: WW2 Encryption: Enigma German Machine – cover off by Anthony Catalano [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


How social media can help your legal business

Recently President Obama got a Facebook page. The reason he stated was to make it easier for the public to have access to the president. He also wanted to have more conversations with real people. Using social media to make connections and grow relationships is a  great way to harness the power of a social media presence. For a lawyer, social media can be a way to be more visible and to reach more clients.

The goal of social media is to get noticed. In the social media world, it means being at the forefront of people’s mind. You can achieve that by making posts that stand out in people’s feeds. The trick is to say things that are interesting to  your followers so that they repost your content. In this post, we will look at ways that social media can help your business.

  1. Social media is an easy way to learn your audience. No matter the industry, it is always beneficial to have insight into who is interested in your product or service. Using social media will allow you to build an audience. As this audience builds you can use tools like google analytics. This allows you to see information about your audience like their age, location, and what posts are being read the most.
  2. Social media can help increase traffic to your website. Many law firms have a site showcasing their business. Having active social media accounts with good content can help drive people to your website. In addition to helping drive new customers to your site, it will also increase your rank in search engines making it easier for other new clients to find you.
  3. Social media helps generate leads for one third the cost. Outside of creating content in the form of posts and picture, you can use social media to advertise your business. Facebook ads and twitter ads allow a firm to easily reach a large audience for a very low price. Advertising starts on some platforms at just 5 dollars. Analytics associated with advertising can be reviewed with known data about your audience so that ads can be targeted to specific audiences.

Social media is fast and delivers news and updates at a record pace. It is also a great way to build your brand and make your clients aware that your firm exists. Don’t over look using social media as a means of improving your relationships with current and future clients.

Photo: social media class via mkhmarketing [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]