If you have been following the media recently you will know that Gawker media, parent company of websites such as Kotaku, Jezebel and ValleyWag, has been in hot water for allegedly not paying their interns between 2008 and 2010.
3 former interns; Aulistar Mark, Andrew Hudson and Hanchen Lu, sought legal advice to get the money they were owed, but what makes the case so interesting is that the lawyer for the plaintiffs of this case, noticing that they are a young and tech savvy group requested to use social media platforms such as Tumblr, Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn and reddit, in order to inform other previous interns of the lawsuit and offer them support as well.
“Plaintiffs propose the use of a Twitter account named “GawkerInterns” … Plaintiffs’ Twitter account will be used to “follow” known former Gawker interns. The “bio” for GawkerInterns, which Twitter limits to 160 characters in length, will state:” To join the collective action lawsuit brought by former Gawker interns, please visit GawkerInternLawsuit.com for more information.”
They also proposed the use of hashtags #gawker; #nickdenton; #intern; #interns; #collectiveaction; #flsa; #lawsuit; #minimumwage; #fairpay; #livingwage; #unpaid; #internships; #gawkerintern; #gawkerinternlawsuit.com; and the names of the various weblogs.
“Plaintiffs propose that Plaintiffs’ counsel be allowed to use their own Facebook accounts to search Facebook for known interns’ names, when such interns’ profiles are found, clicking the “Add Friend” button… Plaintiffs also propose that Plaintiffs’ counsel be allowed to send messages to interns, whether or not such individuals are “friends.”
“Reddit is the self-proclaimed “front page of the Internet…” This litigation has been discussed on Reddit. A search for”Gawker Interns” results in links and comments concerning this litigation (and other legal issues relating to Gawker), making it an ideal platform to direct potential opt-ins to the Court Authorized Notice. Subject to Court approval, Plaintiffs will post a hyperlink to the Court Authorized Notice on Reddit pages, with some or all of the following text (i) “To join the collective action lawsuit brought by former Gawker interns,or for more information, please visit GawkerinternLawsuit.com;” and (ii)”Only [_] days left to join theGawker intern collective action lawsuit.”Plaintiffs propose that the Reddit pages where content would be posted include: KotakuInAction, 2 News, Business, OccupyWallStreet, LostGeneration, and Progressive.”
Gawker was obviously not happy with the use of using large social media platforms to contact more possible plaintiffs, who could cost the media company vastly more money. However, they did allow the plaintiffs some of their requests, while at the same time claiming other requests were inflammatory against the company.
In terms of twitter Gawker only wanted a single general tweet about the cause with the hashtag #gawkerinternlawsuit. “The hashtags #fairpay and #livingwage are inflammatory, and the Court’s approval of those would suggest that the Court has a view about the merits of the lawsuit”
Gawker wished plaintiffs to be careful on reddit of connecting the lawsuit with “unrelated controversies and political causes”. Of the request to post to KotakuInAction “Plaintiffs apparently would like notice of the lawsuit to be added to this ‘munitions pile’ but there is no justification for doing so … The same is true of plaintiffs’ request to post information of this lawsuit in the OccupyWallStreet, Lost Generation and Progressive subreddits”
Gawker also refused plaintiffs the choice to use Tumblr as another platform for connecting to former interns. ” Tumblr is a collection of blogs. … Permitting plaintiffs to create a blog is equivalent to their creating a website, and plaintiffs already have been permitted to create two of those.”
The lawsuit is still in progress.
What do you think? Is social media the way of the legal future?