Aug 16, 2019

Social Media: Culture, Liability & Professional Ethics #NBAAGC2019

One of the greatest inventions of the modern time is the internet whose impact on society has been hugely phenomenal. With the internet, came social networks such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram just to mention a few. All these collectively are referred to as social media.

Social media are interactive computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks.  Social Media has changed the way we communicate and relate with one another. It enables you stay connected to people who may be thousands of miles away in real time and allows us connect with others directly irrespective of location anywhere in the world.

The Global State of Digital 2019 report discovered that there are 98.39 million internet users in Nigeria, compared to January 2018, there has been a 4 million increase in the number of internet users.Despite this increase, overall internet penetration remains quite low, with only 50% of the population connected to the internet, compared to the global average of 57%. Of the 98.39 million Nigerian internet users, 54% access the internet on a daily basis while only 12% (24 million) have active social media accounts. The report also found that 3 hours 17 minutes is the average amount of time Nigerians spend using on social media. This is higher than the global average, which is 3 hours 14 minutes.
It is the position of law that every Nigerian is entitled to freedom of expression and with the advent of social media and the growing number of  its users within the country, there are numerous opportunities open to everyone to express themselves. However, with this opportunity comes great responsibility as many are familiar with the damage that can be caused by fake news. It is important to note that everyone will be held accountable for the information they share and it is important to note that a careless post on any social media platform can incur grave consequences and liabilities. For instance, one must ensure that a social media post is not defamatory in nature.
For lawyers however, social media holds other problems asides being liable for defamation and sharing false information. Due to their professional training, lawyers are already mindful of what they say and where they say it, the Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) for lawyers in Nigeria places restrictions on the use of the media and no one would want to breach the RPC for fear of the effects it may have on their professional careers.
However, Social media is not just a place to show off your thought leadership in the legal world. It can also be a crucial place to engage with your potential clients. As law firms directly communicate with the communities they serve, social media becomes a natural way to reach people in need and acquire new clients.

With the high rate of internet penetration in the country and the growing use of social media. Every business must aggressively employ the use of social media to reach its targeted audience and market. Social media is a two-way channel where you have an opportunity to build a rapport with your clients and prospects.
At the NBA – AGC, this topic will be discussed in one of the break out sessions, it is hoped that you would be present to join the discuss.