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Technological and legal regulation of online social networks

Here is a copy of an article I published in 2005.

Online social networks received a remarkable acceptance in the Brazilian market from the year 2004 on. This paper presents brief observations on the relationship between the technological structure and its terms of use, along with the legal effects, focusing on themes such as database protection, privacy, personality rights of the person’s image and consumer protection.

As opposed to previous methods of using digital communication media, social networks aggregate a critical mass of users in multiple dimensions in such a way that the potential for abuse is heightened.

To explore such premise, this paper is divided into two sections: (i) a multidisciplinary introduction exploring sociology, psychology and general theory of law, and (ii) application of legal institutions to the identified scenario. Part I is necessary to circumscribe the novelty aspects that would justify a specific study for online social networks, especially considering the lack of literature on the theme at the time that this paper was written.

It is not the intention of this paper to exhaust the rich discussions surrounding the theme. Rather, it aims to demonstrate the need to balance technology, values and law when offering or joining an online social network service.

As this is still an unexplored issue, this paper will use analogy to similar activities and will also refer to technical terms and expressions. To facilitate the reading of those already familiar with such technical terminology, the explanation of these terms will be made by footnotes.


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