Once upon a time in the 1990s, web-based platforms began novel opportunities to communicate. Some crudely constructed bulletin boards accepted any content and others sported engaging functionality with images; all were wholly un-proctored. With mounds of extra time on their hands, immediate adopters cycled through sets of credentials for more sophisticated websites named Classmates.com, SixDegrees.com, LinkedIn and Myspace––the goal seemingly to have a profile on each. Then came Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok and Thread. And the list continues to grow.
Before long, innocent nonparticipants were invited multiple times to many of these sites to “tweet” and “poke” contacts they knew and many they didn’t. Whole catalogues of text and image data exploded with these virtual communities. Old friends, classmates, colleagues and geographically dispersed relatives caught up and lived together, at least cybernetically.
As dictated by human nature, we slyly found ways to misuse this technology, sometimes harmlessly “ghosting” overly active “friends” and at other times impersonating them. Though I’ve never had a Facebook account, at one time there were three accounts dedicated to the idea that I should have one.
Before losing hours to TikTok or taking a long tumble on Tumblr, we should establish the corporate risks of these sites: 20 years later, unless you invest the time to harness multiple, never-ending filters, the crushing amount of noise makes it impossible for anyone to make sense of the chaos. More to the point, what is the unmoving goal line for law firms in an increasingly post-social society? Considering the very public misadventures of Disney, Bud Light and Target, does a law practice invite more risk than potential corporate benefit by being overly social?