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Online Social Networks Face Litigation Risks

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Google, Facebook and other companies operating totally 21 Social Networking websites are facing criminal proceedings in an Indian Court, over objectionable content accessible through the websites. A High Court has warned that the sites can face a ban in India unless they screen content. Is the growing flux of regulations surrounding social media a risk for businesses investing in social?

Last year UK threatened to ban social websites following an unrest.  The US government has recently proposed acts such as SOPA and PIPA around prevention of piracy and copyright violation. The current litigation in India is centered on objectionable and derogatory content, but we have also seen censorship based on political and national security reasons. China already maintains a tight control over internet traffic in the country. In general, thanks to the influence of social networks, authorities are holding social network operators responsible for the content posted by the user, in addition to the user herself, and demanding more control. 

Meanwhile, businesses are planning to go more social -

In a survey conducted by IBM last year among more than 3,000 CIOs in 71 countries, 55 percent of respondents said they planned to invest in social networking and collaboration-based software, as a way to increase their competitiveness. Seventy-seven percent said they wanted to change internal collaboration processes over the next three to five years.

Does risk of local regulations factor into this plan? For instance, we already know that emails can be used as evidence in lawsuits in several countries. Could this be extrapolated to content in social networks?

We ask our readers - do you think of regulations or litigation as a risk related to operating or using social networks? If so, how do you or your company plan to mitigate this risk?

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