Popular Seminar Course Enables Students to Study Social Media & The Law

Millions of people use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and other social media, but how many users are aware of what rights they have online or delve into the legal implications of these platforms?

A group of American University Washington College of Law students got the opportunity to do just that over the summer. Social Media and The Law is a two credit seminar class focused on topics impacted by social media including ethics, privacy, national security, speech, defamation, intellectual property, e-discovery and employment law. The course is offered in a hybrid format in which students take part of the course online and part of it on-site at AUWCL.

Aryan Kushan, the technology training manager at AUWCL, has taught Social Media and The Law since 2014. He is a graduate of the University of Baltimore School of Law and has an IT background. With his knowledge of technology and interest in social media, he finds that teaching provides a great opportunity to explore the issues with students.

In class they examine laws and cases, with special attention focused on how laws are applied or how the laws need to change because of emerging technology. He tries to make the course as discussion-based as possible. When online, he hosts live lectures, where he and students can engage with one another.

“Students can give their opinions and thoughts and really shape the class discussions,” Kushan says.
The course, offered every summer, is extremely popular. The class size is limited to 16, but every year there is a significant waiting list.

Part-time JD student Colleen Wellington-Caban says the subject matter is “very relevant in today’s practice, in terms of social media and the use of technology. I thought it would be a good foundational course to take.”

An important component of the class focuses on how knowledge of social media and the law can impact one’s professional life. Kushan spends a significant amount of class time on this in an effort to help students be better prepared in practice.

Part-time JD student Dayne Cutrell feels that taking the course has given him new perspective on social media. “I think this class makes each of us more cognizant of how we use social media. We’ve been studying the rules, regulations, and statutes. As a result, I’m definitely more aware of what I’m posting, how others can interpret it, and ultimately how it complies with the law.”
Social media and the law is a fairly new arena. Sometimes it can be a challenge to stay abreast of the latest developments, but this is also one of the things Kushan finds rewarding about this type of class.

By the time students complete the course, Kushan wants every student to understand how and why laws need to change as technology evolves. “For lawyers and future lawyers, I think it’s crucial that they know how the law applies to technology in order to provide the best possible representation for their clients.”