online journalism

Social media in law—is it more trouble than it’s worth?

A month or two ago, it was revealed in the University of Iowa’s student newspaper, the Daily Iowan, that Apartments Downtown, a business in Iowa City, IA, would be facing a massive lawsuit in regards to their unethical and illegal business practices.

Iowa City Apartments Downtown class action lawsuit logo

Now, not many people were surprised at this revelation—college students are known for complaining about things, especially landlords, when they are pissed off. Since the article’s publication though, many more tenants have jumped on the lawsuit bandwagon.

To help their case and to also help get the word out about the injustices that Apartments Downtown have done, a website was created about the class action lawsuit.  On the website you can see links to newspaper articles about the progression of the lawsuit but you can also find a Facebook page.

While this is an easy way to get the word out to other college students about the lawsuit and it’s progression, could this possibly hurt the case as well?

A question I have been wrestling with for a while now after writing a paper for my media law class on the fairness doctrine, is:

With the constant development of new technologies and improvements, will law continue to be constant as well or will the black holes of the Internet and technologies slowly engulf civility?

It will be interesting to see how the lawsuit proceeds and if the defense will find anything to attack from the comments or posts from the Facebook page. It is not anything new having Facebook involved with lawsuits, especially in cyber-bullying cases, but there are many inconsistencies with social media and lawsuits—what is protecting us and how are we being protected? If someone knows the answer to that question, I would GREATLY appreciate an answer that isn’t found on “just another website.”

While the internet and technology has indeed made our lives easier in many ways, will that “easiness” bring more hurt and heartache and thus create more lawsuits that just become more complicated and confusing as time progresses?

I hope that law schools have classes that deal with internet, media, and technology issues in law just like journalism classes do, so these questions and issues that are happening now are countered in upcoming years with efficient and concrete answers.

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