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Death wish: the limits of professional behaviour

Fighting fire with fire can be a dangerous response for solicitors seeking to stand up to abuse on social media, warns Susanna Heley

27 February 2019

It was reported recently that the actor David Tennant had been surprised to learn – in sexual harassment training – that the aubergine emoji had an alternative, more salacious, meaning in text speak.

His slightly tongue-in-cheek attitude was reportedly to imagine that you’re asking about eggplant for dinner and suddenly find yourself in front of a tribunal.

For solicitors and those trying to develop social media policies for firms, awareness of potentially unintended double meanings or particular generational or cultural attitude towards certain words is important.

It is undeniable that language is a constantly developing medium, slang, shortened words, multi-use and popular acronyms and even persistent misunderstanding of terms all contribute to such development and potentially raise the prospect of miscommunication envisaged by David Tennant.

Although, in some ways this is a non-story, it is not at all farfetched to imagine that solicitors...

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