Social Media Newsfeed: Bloggers Win in First Amendment Ruling | Pinterest Expands to Berlin

A federal appeals court decides bloggers and journalists have the same First Amendment rights. Pinterest opens an office in Germany. These stories, and more, in today's Morning Social Media Newsfeed.

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CourtRulingBloggers Have First Amendment Protections, Court Rules (The Huffington Post)
A federal appeals court ruled Friday that bloggers and the public have the same First Amendment protections as journalists when sued for defamation: If the issue is of public concern, plaintiffs have to prove negligence to win damages. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new trial in a defamation lawsuit brought by an Oregon bankruptcy trustee against Montana blogger Crystal Cox who wrote online that the court-appointed trustee criminally mishandled a bankruptcy case. Politico In 2011, a jury found against Cox and ordered her to pay $2.5 million. GigaOM When Cox lost her defamation case, the decision was greeted by a chorus of cheers from journalists, who were quick to argue that Cox wasn’t a journalist in any real sense of the word, and therefore didn’t deserve any protection from the First Amendment. The implications of this ruling go beyond just a single defamation case. It’s another link in a chain of decisions that are gradually helping to extend the principle of free-speech protection beyond professional journalism to anyone who is publishing information with public value. The Wall Street Journal Judge Andrew Hurwitz, writing for the unanimous panel of the 9th Circuit, said Cox’s status as a blogger was irrelevant: “The protections of the First Amendment do not turn on whether the defendant was a trained journalist, formally affiliated with traditional news entities, engaged in conflict-of-interest disclosure, went beyond just assembling others’ writings, or tried to get both sides of a story. As the Supreme Court has accurately warned, a First Amendment distinction between the institutional press and other speakers is unworkable … In defamation cases, the public-figure status of a plaintiff and the public importance of the statement at issue—not the identity of the speaker—provide the First Amendment touchstones.” Los Angeles Times The bottom line is that anyone who makes a critical assertion of fact online about an issue of public importance now has the same protection that journalists have. To be held liable for defamation, they have to be found negligent.

Next Stop for Pinterest: An Office in Berlin (VentureBeat)
It looks like the next prominent Silicon Valley company is setting up shop in Berlin: photo sharing community Pinterest. The company has two job ads on its website seeking a Berlin-based country and community manager.

Infographic: Which Words Will Most Likely Lead to Facebook Status Updates Being Shared? (AllFacebook)
A picture may be worth 1,000 words, but which words could be worth 1,000 shares when they are used in Facebook status updates? According to the infographic below, from Facebook application creator ShortStack, words that convey these actions make status updates on the social network more likely to be shared.

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Spotify Now Lets All Artists List Merchandise on its Music Streaming Service (The Next Web)
Late last year, music-streaming service Spotify promised that it would roll out in-app merchandise listings in partnership with Topspin – and today the company has delivered (hat/tip Music Ally). From now onwards, all artists can list their merchandise — including T-shirts, vinyl, posters, bundles among others — to all of their fans and followers on Spotify, for free.

Academy Awards Nominations & Social Media (SocialTimes)
Whether you live in Los Angeles — or just love the movies — it’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement of award season. The 86th annual Academy Awards nominations were announced on Thursday, and many sites hit the ground running. Let the social media frenzy begin.