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I heard you gave up your blog for Twitter….I heard, that you gave up Twitter for Pinterest….I heard…

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You may have noticed that I have been spending a great deal of time on Twitter over the past several months, and far less time on this blog.  That is, as far as I can tell, the trend for many folks in the social media world.   That isn’t to say that I haven’t been writing (you can find two of my recent blog posts at the awesome LifeSciencesNow site put together by my colleagues at Drinker Biddle & Reath — those posts, on IP and the Life Sciences, and the FTC’s recent privacy guidance, are here and here) but it means that the immediate interactivity of Twitter has become increasingly important, and attractive

Recently, I live-tweeted a DBR webinar on healthcare and social media (you can find the discussion on Twitter at #dbrhealth) and a number of sessions at the International Trademark Association annual meeting in Washington DC (you can find those discussions at #INTADC).  So does this mean that the long-form blog is a thing of the past?  Of course not.  Many subjects simply cannot be discussed in 140 characters or less, and extended analysis will always be needed.   But, the growth of Twitter as a platform means that quick reference to important news can be made on the fly, and that that discussions can take place in a public space.

So (and you knew this was coming, right?) what are the legal implications?  If people spend more and more time in the hit-and-run atmosphere of Twitter, they are less likely to read disclaimers, they are less likely to understand (or even perceive) larger contexts, and they are far more likely to say things in the heat of passion.  Endorsement issues (still a concern of the FTC) become magnified in an environment where the only way you can communicate that you are a paid shill (I mean, spokesman) is through a hashtag (although many companies are working on technical solutions using the appearance of the tweet to indicate the source).

Again, all of this means that companies and individuals must (as always) seriously consider their social media activities — do you have a policy, what is that policy, and why do you have that particular policy.  Social media use should be an excuse to engage in systematic introspection — why and how are you engaging with others on social media, and what are the implications for you, your brand and your lawyers?

If you work in social media, you can’t simply adopt a position and expect it to have relevance a year later.  You need to constantly be reconsidering your approach, and whether the legal landscape has changed.  Only through constant vigilance can you maintain an edge in this wired world.