Section News and Information
February 21, 2013
Social Media Guidelines
Virginia State Bar Family Law Section (“FLS”) members who create content (“FLS Content”) for or contribute postings to social media that identifies, expressly or by implication, itself as being sponsored by, administered by, or affiliated with the FLS (“FLS Social Media”) are expected to do so responsibly, professionally, ethically, and lawfully in accordance with these guidelines and the Virginia State Bar Policy Concerning the Use of Social Media on Behalf of Virginia State Bar and its Entities (the “VSB Policy”), available at www.vsb.org/docs/ch-policies.pdf and incorporated in its entirety by reference. Neither the VSB Policy nor these guidelines apply to a FSL member’s use of social media that is unrelated to the Virginia State Bar.
For purposes of these guidelines, “Social Media” means contributing, posting or uploading content or postings to all types of interactive electronic communications including but not limited to websites, weblogs, social networks, and discussion boards.
The FLS uses Social Media to provide members with an outlet to receive and exchange information about Section activities and events, as well as information relevant to family, domestic relations, and juvenile law in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Only FLS members may use FLS Social Media.
Subscription to FLS Social Media is subject to the approval of the FLS Social Media Subcommittee and/or the Chair of the FLS Board of Governors. These guidelines are subject to change depending upon the needs and requirements of the Virginia State Bar, the FLS and its members. No vested rights are granted to anyone by the VSB Policy or these guidelines.
1. No FLS member shall create a FLS Social Media presence without first securing the approval of the FLS Board of Governors the Virginia State Bar.
2. FLS Content should be relevant to the mission of the FLS and the Virginia State Bar, and should assist in advancing the availability and quality of legal services provided to the people of Virginia and/or to improving the legal profession and the judicial system. FLS Content must be of professional quality and must be carefully considered. All statements must be true to the best of the knowledge and belief of the FLS and not misleading.
3. The posting of private information about posters or others is prohibited. FLS Content and postings must adhere to all statutory prescriptions and Rules of Professional Conduct, including but not limited to laws and rules governing the privacy of individuals and confidential information of clients. FLS Content and postings shall not contain material that is obscene, defamatory, profane, libelous, threatening, harassing, abusive, hateful, or embarrassing to another person or entity or to the Virginia State Bar.
5. FLS Content and postings shall be of an informational nature and for informational purposes only. Commercial use or any other unauthorized use of FLS Social Media is prohibited. Do not use FLS Social Media to solicit or conduct business, including the direct or indirect marketing of users’ products or services, in any manner. FLS Social Media may not be used to provide information, materials, products, or services in exchange for compensation of any kind.
6. FLS Content and postings must conform to all applicable state and federal laws. Without limitation, this includes compliance with copyright and trademark laws. Do not use any words, logos, or other marks that infringe upon the trademark, service mark, certification mark, or other intellectual property right of the owners of such marks without their express permission to do so. Without limitation, this also includes antitrust laws. No content shall encourage or facilitate agreements between Virginia State Bar members of different firms concerning the following, as they pertain to legal services: prices, discounts, or terms or conditions of sale; salaries; profits, profit margins, or cost data; market shares, sales territories, or markets; allocation of customers or suppliers; or any other term or condition related to competition.
7. FLS Social Media shall not contain confidential, sensitive or non-public proprietary information of or about the Virginia State Bar, the FLS Board of Governors, section members, employees, business partners, suppliers or other third parties.
8. FLS Content must comply with all other applicable Virginia State Bar policies, including, without limitation, the Virginia State Bar’s Policies Concerning Legislative and Regulatory Activities. FLS Social Media may not be used for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election or a nomination for public office, or advocating for or against a partisan political party, candidate for partisan political office or partisan political group.
9. Do not allow unauthorized users access to FLS Social Media.
10. Social media postings may generate media coverage. If a member of the media contacts the FLS about FLS Social Media, that contact should be referred to the Virginia State Bar’s Deputy Executive Director.
11. Social Media content creates business records that may be retained for business, legal and regulatory purposes. By posting material, the posting party warrants and represents that he or she owns the copyright with respect to such material, has received permission from the copyright owner, or that the material is in the public domain. The posting party further warrants and represent that he or she has the full and unencumbered right to post such material and that such posting will not infringe upon any rights or interests of others. In addition, the posting party grants the FLS and its members/subscribers of FLS Social Media a non-exclusive, irrevocable license to display, copy, publish, distribute, transmit, print, and use such information or material in any manner without payment to the posting party.
12. The FLS accepts no responsibility for the opinions and information posted on FLS Social Media. The FLS disclaims all warranties with regard to information posted on FLS Social Media, whether posted by the FLS or FLS members; this disclaimer includes but is not limited to all implied warranties of merchantability and fitness. In no event shall the FLS be liable for any special, indirect, or consequential damages or damages of any kind whatsoever, resulting from loss of use, data, or profits, arising out of or in connection with access to, use, or performance of any information posted on FLS Social Media.
13. Do not impersonate any person or entity or otherwise misrepresent your affiliation with a person or entity or interfere with other uses of FLS Social Media. Do not disseminate harmful content including, without limitation, viruses, or any other computer programming routines that may damage, interfere with, surreptitiously intercept or expropriate any system, program, data, or personal information.
14. If the Virginia State Bar deems FLS Content or a posting to be inappropriate under the VSB Policy, appropriate enforcement action will be taken. In addition, failure to follow these guidelines may result in revocation of access to FLS Social Media at the sole discretion of the FLS. Nothing in these guidelines or the VSB Policy alters, derogates from, or otherwise affects FLS members’ (a) legal obligations under civil or criminal law or (b) ethical and professional obligations under the Rules of Professional Conduct.