UVA Law Symposium to Examine Privacy on Social Media

Social Media and the Law
February 5, 2016

Living in a world surrounded by technology raises new questions for privacy rights. A symposium to be held at the University of Virginia School of Law on Feb. 11 will explore the privacy of speech in a social media setting. (Schedule)

Sponsored by the Virginia Journal of Social Policy & the Law and the Virginia Journal of Law & Technology, "Social Media and the Law: Public, Private and Personal," will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Purcell Reading Room and in Caplin Pavilion.

"There is no doubt that we are living in the age of social media," said symposium organizer Renee Manson, a third-year law student. "Various legal issues can arise when website users share or post information online. The symposium seeks to explore the legal implications on one's public, private and personal use of social media."

Scott Mellon, the lead advertising and privacy counsel for Facebook, will deliver the keynote address on privacy rights in social media, at 11:45 a.m. in Caplin Pavilion. Mellon, a 2006 graduate of UVA Law, advises Facebook on a wide range of advertising and privacy issues, including compliance with federal, state and international laws and regulations.

Mellon also served as an attorney at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher before joining the Facebook team in California.

Along with Mellon’s address, the symposium will host two panels. The first panel, Private Speech and Privacy on Social Media, will explore criminal and civil regulations, as well as liabilities of private speech on social media, including true threats, revenge porn, cyberbullying and the Communications Decency Act. Following Mellon's talk, the second panel will explore free speech rights versus public and private institutional interests, along with employer penalizations for speech on social media, politicized speech and censorship.

Social Media and the Law: Public, Private and Personal

Thursday, Feb. 11

The panels will be in the Purcell Reading Room, and lunch and the keynote speaker will be in Caplin Auditorium.

10 a.m. 
Panel 1: Private Speech and Privacy on Social Media

  • Daniel Ortiz, University of Virginia School of Law
  • Jennifer Peterson, University of Virginia
  • Lee Rowland, American Civil Liberties Union
  • Lyrissa Barnett Lidsky, Levin College of Law
  • Moderator: Katie Townsend, Reporters Committee

11:45 a.m. 
"What's on Your Timeline? Privacy Rights in a Social Media Setting"
Scott Mellon '06, Associate General Counsel, Advertising and Privacy, Facebook

1 p.m.
Panel 2: Free Speech Privileges v. Public and Private Institutional Interests

  • Allen Dickerson, Center for Comparative Politics
  • Lewis Maltby, National Workrights Institute
  • Rafael Gomez, Gomez & Becker
  • Joshua Wheeler '92, Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression
  • Moderator: J. H. Verkerke, University of Virginia School of Law


Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

Media Contact

Mary M. Wood
Chief Communications Officer
wood@law.virginia.edu / (434) 924-3786

News Highlights