NY Times on Corporate Blogs

NY Times on Corporate Blogs. Blogs are experiencing a boomlet among more sophisticated corporations for reasons explained in an excellent NY Times story:

For companies and executives, blogs provide a way to talk informally to customers, vendors and employees. But the so-called blogosphere can also be a minefield. Saying the wrong thing or revealing trade secrets could come back to haunt a company. And public companies need to worry about disclosure rules. “There is a sense that blogging is about to explode in the business area, but who's brave enough to do it yet?” asks Halley Suitt, director for client development at Yaga Inc., a company in San Francisco offering a payment technology for Web sites. She is also a blogger, at http://halleyscomment.blogspot.com. “Many early bloggers were wild entrepreneurial types,” she added, but now the phenomenon is drawing “more legitimate executives.”

The story also has a great quote from John G. Palfrey, executive director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at the Harvard Law School: “Once you get to the point where lawyers review everything in a blog, it ain't a blog anymore.”

The danger of saying something that can unexpectedly come back to haunt you is real, and something I'm addressed here previously. However, one comment in the story could be misleading. A New York lawyer is quoted as recommending that blogs have a disclaimer concerning linked-to sites, just in case one of the linked-to sites advocates illegal conduct. There's nothing wrong with disclaimers, but from the context, this remark could give readers the impression that just linking to other sites is a big legal risk. It isn't.

Given the often ad hoc, impulsive nature of many blogs, in my view there is a significant risk of hurting yourself or your employer by saying something you later regret. In fact, as blogging becomes more popular as a business tool, I predict we'll see some horror stories along those lines. Howver, linking per se is not a separate risk worth a lot of attention. Lawrence Savell, the lawyer in question, is Internet-savvy so I suspect the reporter may have somewhat mangled his meaning by quoting him out of context.  [net.law.blog]

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