10 Questions Small Business Owners Should Be Asking a Media Lawyer

Whether your business is conducted exclusively online 🌐 or you only use social media for marketing purposes, ALL small business owners should be working closely with a media lawyer.

As you may be aware, the Internet and social media come with an endless supply of guidelines and laws that brands must follow if they want to stay out of legal trouble.

Between protecting customers and followers, employees, and your own privacy, it can be difficult to know where to begin 🤷‍♀️ when asking an attorney for help. 

Luckily, I’ve curated a list of the top ten questions you should ALWAYS ask your media lawyer about your small business’ social media and online presence:

1. How is my business’ security? 🔐

Just ONE data breach of your website could cost you and your customers millions of dollars. Not to mention, it could ultimately mean the end of your business!

Therefore, it’s imperative that you consult an attorney to discuss the security measures you’ve taken to protect yourself and your customers.

For example, your media attorney may take a look at your passwords or recommend using a random password generator for improved protection. Furthermore, they may teach you how to use two-factor authentication for an added layer of safety 🛡️.

Ultimately, your lawyer knows best how to keep you safe, so be sure to ask for their advice.

2. Does my website comply with applicable privacy laws?

There are several major privacy laws that businesses must ensure their websites abide by in order to stay out of legal trouble.

One example is the Children’s 👶 Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which requires all websites that collect data from children under 13 to disclose and obtain permission from the children’s guardians. 

Additionally, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is a privacy law meant to protect California residents’ personal information online. However, note that any business of a specified size whose website users live in California is legally required to comply with the CCPA.

Ultimately, ALL small business owners should consult a legal professional to inquire about the details of these and other privacy laws to stay away from lawsuits and penalties 💰.

3. Are there any cookies on my website?

One of the main indicators that your website does NOT comply with the CCPA is cookies 🍪, small bits of text that websites save information such as logins, passwords, items in users’ carts, and more for future use. 

In order to comply with the CCPA and other privacy laws, websites must alert users if they use cookies. However, most people don’t even know that their website uses cookies until they go out of their way to look it up! 

Luckily, a legal professional can help you determine whether your website uses cookies and, if so, what to do to ensure you’re appropriately alerting ⚠️ your website’s users.

4. Does my website comply with accessibility laws?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects the equal rights of disabled individuals by ensuring that Internet users with disabilities have a fair opportunity to experience content online.

Therefore, in order to avoid ADA lawsuits, you need to make sure your website 💻 is compliant. 

While there are free services available for the DIY-er, larger businesses with more legal risk should ask an attorney to assess their site for ADA compliance. 

5. Are my website’s terms and conditions adequate?

Terms and conditions are an imperative part of any website, especially for small businesses.

Usually, there are only a few required components to terms and conditions 📝, such as a statement limiting liability, a privacy policy, and a copyright clause. 

While many media attorneys will provide the general public with inexpensive terms and conditions templates, you want to ensure your website is totally safe from legal issues. Therefore, if you have any trouble completing your terms and conditions on your own, be sure to consult a legal professional.

6. Am I using the right social media platforms?

Once your business has a strong brand and defined audience 👥, choosing which social media platform you’ll use to market your product or service is usually pretty simple.

For example, if you sell products that families usually purchase, Facebook would probably be a great place to start.

However, once you’re working with a media lawyer, don’t be afraid to ask for their input and advice on your social media strategy. Usually, these legal professionals are both educated and experienced in business’ best uses of social media, and they’re always happy to help 👍!

7. Am I violating any copyright laws?

Social media can be a bit confusing 🤔 at times. 

For example, most social platforms provide users the opportunity to “share”, “retweet” something they’ve seen on their feed. However, did you know that it is in violation of social platforms’ terms of use as well as copyright law to take content from one site and repost it on another?

This is just one example of how tricky copyright laws can be on social media. Therefore, you should always speak to an attorney about how you can employ the doctrine of fair use to avoid 🙅‍♂️ copyright issues online.

8. Are there other forms of media that could better communicate my brand’s message?

Many media lawyers, such as myself, have a background in communications. Therefore, we can often advise you on differentiated forms of media and how they can enhance your online marketing strategy. 

For example, you may want to start using videos 📹 to connect your brand to a friendly face, or graphics to demonstrate how popular your product is in an easily digestible manner!

9. How do I hire a freelancer to run my social media?

As of 2020, California’s Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) has made hiring gig workers a bit more complicated. However, many businesses prefer hiring contractors to handle their social media for them.

Luckily, a media lawyer can provide you with the necessary contract templates and educate you on the hiring laws in your state before you do business with a freelancer 🤝.

10. Do you foresee any other legal issues arising from my online presence?

As an experienced professional in the legal field, a media lawyer may see something problematic on your website or social media accounts that you completely overlooked. That’s why we’re here to work with you!

Asking open-ended questions 💬 to get advice from an attorney is a great way to ensure nothing is overlooked and you’re doing everything in your power to protect yourself and your business from legal problems.