Legal Aspects of Social Media & Boat Propeller Accidents: DJ Laz example

Social Media posts, photographs, and videos from Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Flickr, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google Plus, YouTube, and others are becoming increasingly important in accident cases (auto accidents, workplace accidents, etc.).

This post will focus more specifically on the legal aspects of sharing and social network Social Media with respect to boat propeller accidents, and more specifically the legal aspects of social media with respect to the boat propeller accident involving DJ Laz. In addition to the many Social Media sites mentioned above, online boating forums represent yet another type of social media as well. Boating forums play such a large role they will be discussed separately in a future post.

Quad Yamaha 350's behind DJ Laz's boat

Quad Yamaha 350’s behind DJ Laz’s boat

The DJ Laz Example

DJ Laz

DJ Laz

While our discussion of Social Media and boat propeller accidents will be broad, it is strongly driven by a recent Florida accident in which Ernesto Hernandez was fatally struck by the boat propeller of a boat operated by DJ Laz.

DJ Laz is a well known Miami, Florida radio personality that commands one the largest social media presences of anyone ever involved in a boat propeller accident. A few famous people and celebrities have ties to boat propeller accidents, but Social Media either did not exist at the time of their accident or had not developed to the state it is in today.

As to some basic statistics, at the time of the accident DJ Laz had roughly 11,800 likes on his Facebook presence and 23,500 Twitter followers. He sent over 12,000 tweets in the last few years. While those numbers pale in comparison to big name national celebrities, they are a couple magnitudes larger than the online presence of most individuals involved in boat propeller accidents.

DJ Laz and his legal team quickly recognized the importance his social media presence might have in any potential litigation and rapidly took some actions in his behalf (shut down his Facebook and Twitter presence). A few days later, a law suit was filed against him by the deceased man’s mother. We provide full coverage of the accident and of the resulting lawsuit.

We also noticed several of his Tweets link to photos on Instagram and other social media photo repositories on which his accounts were also quickly closed after the accident.

This post will discuss Social Media as it relates to individuals (the person injured or killed, the boat operator, other individuals associated with the accident) and as it relates to companies (boat dealers, boat manufacturers, marine drive manufacturers, marinas, other firms associated with a boat propeller accident).

Note – This post is NOT professional legal advice. It is just some information to raise the awareness of the importance of Social Media in many aspects of boat propeller accidents, and to create the basis for a further discussion of this topic.

Social Media is Watching You

By now, most of us are now aware that potential employers are highly likely to view online content of job applicants before hiring them. College students nearing graduation are trying to clean up their content on Facebook and other social media sites. Photos of you dancing drunk, naked, holding a drink, stick your tounge out, full of body piercings, tattoos, and flashing gang signs are definitely taboo if you are looking for a job outside of a tattoo parlor.

Workplace accidents and workman’s comp closely followed suit. If you are home on long term disability, you better not be posting photos of yourself going golfing, mountain climbing, wake boarding, etc. unless you want to go to jail. For example, in 2010, a gentleman struck by a boat propeller in 1995 that had been receiving long term disability in the UK claiming he could not perform normal tasks was observed participating in a rigorous BBC adventure documentary treking around the world. His “trek” resulted in the government wanting their disability payments back and many other issues.

If you participate in online dating services, you should expect to be “Googled”. If you profile yourself in the dating service as a rich astronaut that owns a bar, but your Facebook posts show you still living with your mom, you are not going to be going on many dates.

Similarly, individuals about to file accident suits and individuals anticipating accident suits might be filed against them should be very concerned about their online presence on Social Media sites.

Materials Related to You Previously Doing Stupid or Offensive Things

Ten years ago, lawyers might snoop around a little to try to learn about your life, or even hire a private eye to follow you around a while, and visit with your neighbors. That is often no longer necessary. Your online Social Media presence makes your life an open book.

But your Social Media presence is often not representative of our actual life. We don’t take photos of ourselves grinding out our daily activities. We write and post photos about the exciting and special moments, and often get even crazier just before those photos are taken.

Lawyers for the opposing side will closely review your online presence and present the the jury a series of photos of you doing stupid things, or of you doing things that might offend someone on the jury. Lawyers might read the jury some text you wrote ranting or cursing about something that may offend certain members of the jury.

For example, DJ Laz is often known online as “The Pimp With a Limp”, and he openly promotes liquor online. His name is associated with countless events associated with women that you would not want to bring home to meet your mother the way they are dressed. Some YouTube videos show DJ Laz repeatedly using vulgar language and encouraging others to abuse alcohol. These are just a few of things in his online social media presence that some jurors might find offensive.

Even if your online social media content is relatively clean, neat, and nice, lawyers for the opposing side can grab a piece of it out of context, and that piece might sound offensive to a member of the jury.

As a result, several attorneys are now recommending those filing accident suits or anticipating accident suits are about to be filed against them, immediately shut down their online presence on social media sites.

Pretty Girls on DJ Laz's boat

Pretty Girls on DJ Laz’s boat

Back to the DJ Laz example. The man is a radio personality, DJ, and a rapper. His social media presence looks like he belongs on the original Miami Vice (lots of pretty girls, music, fast cars, expensive boats, and some alcohol, then lots more pretty girls). Like the boatload of pretty girls on his boat as seen at right taken from his 3 March 2013 Facebook post (we reduced the size of the image).

At first glance there is nothing wrong with the image of almost a dozen pretty girls in DJ Laz’s boat. Then you begin to notice they are standing while the boat appears to be rapidly underway (from the wake behind the boat and the girl’s blowing hair). A few girls are hanging on to cupholders / rodholders and others are trying to maintain their balance. This image could be used to show he is more concerned with appearance than with boating safety.

Several promotional posters announcing past special events are on his sites or elsewhere on the web. Some of them are not appropriate for our audience, but a lawyer might show some of them to a jury for shock value.

After the prosecution shows some carefully selected photos from his Facebook account And materials from his other Social Media sites to the jury, some jurors might think DJ Laz is gangster, is a thug, sexually exploits women, pushes alcohol, and lives the wild life. Those jurors may be less likely to come to his defense when the jury votes on his case. Just one juror can make a lot of difference in a case.

Yes, we are aware both sides wrangle with the judge about what will or will not be admissible in court. Judges often blackball an item or two from each side’s materials (prevent them from being shown to the jury). But it would take a couple cases of blackballs to keep out all the social media posts DJ Laz’s side might want to keep from the jury. Even if it becomes public that Ernesto Hernandez made some choices some might perceive as wrong during his life, a jury is much more accepting of perceived wrongdoings by a deceased person, than they are of similar perceived wrongdoings by the the person being charged with their death.

As to DJ Laz’s actions during the grounding the sandbar, his actions may have also been concerned more with appearance than with safety. I recall a public demonstration at an industrial trade show many years ago in which a failure occurred during the demonstration (such as becoming grounded on the sandbar while demonstrating Voli Spirits). The company went to great lengths to quickly extricate itself from this unwanted pose (get off the sandbar as fast as possible before people start taking photos and posting jokes about DJ Laz and Voli Spirits being stuck in the mud). DJ Laz may have been thinking the same thing. The industrial trade show incident I mentioned was long before the era of online social media, but word of mouth was very important. The company did not want people telling jokes about their equipment behind their back. In today’s world, onlookers quickly post the same types of jokes online complete with photos and videos for the whole world to view. Competitors and anybody with a grudge against you jump in. It quickly becomes a feeding frenzy at your expense.

Other DJ Laz Social Media Accounts

DJ Laz had a significant presence on several social networking sites, including multiple presences on some of them (separate sites for his earlier work at 96.5, a radio station he previously worked for, and some almost co-presences with his friend Pitbull).

In addition to Facebook and Twitter, DJ Laz also had one or more presences on MySpace, Instagram, SoundCloud, and some some Spanish networking sites.


DJ Laz with Voli Vodka

DJ Laz with Voli Vodka
from his Facebook Post

Many boating accidents involve the use of alcohol or drugs. If you were a boat operator involved in a boat propeller accident and your Social Media presence includes photos of you drinking alcohol to excess or using drugs, the prosecution will show those photos and references to the jury. Even if you were stone cold sober at the time of the accident, visual evidence of your past conduct can taint the jury’s judgement.

In DJ Laz’s defense, there are far fewer photos of him with alcohol on his social media sites than you would imagine for a DJ / radio personality. There are incredibly fewer photos of him on with alcohol than one would anticipate for someone promoting Voli Spirits.

DJ Laz's HydraSports boat

DJ Laz’s HydraSports boat

DJ Laz’s boat is covered in a large orange skin (vehicle wrap / boat wrap) promoting Voli Spirits / Voli Vodka. The boat was often used to promote Voli at special events and just its appearance could be a special event. On the day of the accident the boat was out on a promotional run that had been announced on his Facebook and Twitter sites. The boat can be seen in several of his posts and is an iconic image tied to DJ Laz. His fans seeing the boat on the water, associate it with him. Similarly more people nearby may have came to push because they knew it was DJ Laz’s boat than would have came to push a similar vessel without the Voli wrap being operated by you or me.

Many first hearing or watching news of the accident reported suspecting DJ Laz was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident. However, Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) says several of their officers saw no signs of him being under the influence and thus were not able to draw a blood sample. FWCC did ask DJ Laz to voluntarily blow a breathalyzer test which he refused.

DJ Laz promoting Hennessy cognac

DJ Laz promoting Hennessy cognac

A significant part of DJ Laz’s online presence is his strong ties to his friend Pitbull and them promoting Voli Spirits / Voli Vodka. DJ Laz previously promoted Hennessey.

We suspect DJ Laz’s social media presence will hurt him on the alcohol issue, that is if the prosecution is able to recover his now missing social media presence.

Background Research

We have long used Social Media to learn about propeller accident victims, witnesses, and boat operators. One can often find their photos, and get a sense of their lives.

The news media does the same thing. Often the first news photos posted of propeller accident victims come from Facebook or other social media sites.

Lawyers do the same thing we and the news media do, but legal researchers goes much further. They will closely examine Social Media presence to determine your dress style, your appearance (sloppily dressed, tattoos, body piercings, wear your pants low, etc.), determine where you live, identify your hobbies and what you do in your spare time, identify your friends, identify your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend, find where you work, identify your coworkers, learn about your education, identify your family members, get a feel for your sexual preference and sexual promiscuity, see what artists, organizations and products you “like”, check your previous employment, and more. They will also examine your conversations and see if you are quick to use bad words, get upset quickly, identify your hot buttons, social causes, etc.

The attorneys suggesting you immediately delete your online presence do not want to have to defend you against all those materials, some of which can be taken out of context to make you look stupid or like a hoodlum. Those same attorneys will be all over the Social Media presence of your opponent it court.

Although we primarily cover propeller accident legal cases against boat builders and marine drive manufacturers, suits against individuals (boat operators) for negligence are far more common. Even if you are a clean cut all American guy (most propeller injury negligence suits are against men), you may still face a lot of challenges from your online Social Media presence.

We are not telling you to delete you presence if you are suing someone or anticipate being sued in a boat propeller accident. However, but we strongly suggest you discuss your social media presence and how best to deal with it with an attorney as quickly as possible after the accident. Lawsuits can be filed quite quickly, such as in 5 days in the DJ Laz accident. Once a suit is filed, your deletion of social materials about your life in general may be seen as destroying evidence. Deletion of social media materials directly relevant to the accident at any time may be viewed as destroying evidence.

Pre-Accident Materials Relevant to the Propeller Accident

Any online Social Medial materials about your previous boating experiences, photos of you fishing, discussions of the lake the accident later happened at, photos of you wake boarding, photos of the boat, images of you working on the boat, photos of you operating the boat, etc. might also be considered legal evidence depending on the circumstances of the accident.

In the DJ Laz example, Mr. Mendez had a very large online Social Media presence on mulitple platforms (including some in Spanish). Often, multiple posts were made daily. His Twitter and Facebook accounts often echoed his posts (one post shows up on both platforms). The frequency of his posts and scale of his online presence over many online platforms opens the possibility his online presence may have been at least partially controlled by someone else (like a personal secretary). Many photos on his various Social Media sites appear relaxed and extemporaneous, but a closer looks hints many of them may have been taken by a professionals or a semi-professional photographer, plus several photos were probably taken at one time to obtain the “keepers” that were posted.

Several to most of DJ Laz’s Tweets include shortened links to images posted on other Social Media sites (the Tweet leads you to an image on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or somewhere else). He has also since closed his account in some of those photo repositories so the photos are no longer available in the normal manner.

DJ Laz’s Facebook and Twitter accounts included invitations to the Voli promotional event at which the accident occurred. At this time (13 May 2014) his Facebook page and Twitter account are down. It is not clear if those accounts have been merely put on temporary hold, or have been deleted. If they have been deleted, deleting some of those materials may be seen as destroying evidence. That is up to the courts to determine.

Accident Research

Many people announce their involvement in a boat propeller accident on the Social Media tools of choice (Facebook, Twitter, crowdsourcing fundraising sites, etc). Sometimes their recovery is followed online by family members and friends. Sometimes they or family members will make online accusatory statements against those they feel are liable for their propeller accident.

Sometimes friends, family, bystanders, and other interested parties will post information about the accident or just post brief comments about including you in their prayers to your online Social Media presence.

While Facebook posts may be made directly to your “wall”, Twitter posts by others may use hashtags tied to the accident or to you. For example in the accident involving DJ Laz, hundreds of Tweets went out with hashtags of #DJLaz or #therealDJLaz.

If you were killed in a boat propeller accident, your family may keep one of your Social Media sites going or start another one as a memorial to your life.

We have seen several instances in which someone was injured or killed in a boat propeller accident as part of of group tour, excursion boat, dive boat, or party boat event. Often in those instances, those onboard, sometimes with the encouragement of family members, quickly establish an onboard repository (provide zip drives, online repositories, or other means for for everybody to place copies of any photos they shot that tour). These photos often include nice photos of the injured/deceased person on the tour before they were injured plus photos of things happening on the vessel that may have contributed to the accident, photos of the accident, and photos after the accident that can be of great use to legal teams. Also, often following propeller accidents in which several people along for the tour, we find bystanders on the tour often go home and blog about about the tour and the accident.

ANY materials created after the accident with relevance to the accident might be considered evidence by the court. If you delete any of this material you and possibly your attorney may be subject to legal repercussions for destroying evidence.

In the DJ Laz / Ernesto Hernandez accident, images of people pushing the boat just before the accident worked there way onto social media sites over the next couple days, including a video of the engines kicking a lot of water shortly before the accident. We first saw those images on a news site, but they were also quickly posted on social media discussions of the accident.

DJ Laz's boat being pushed from sandbar just prior to the accident

DJ Laz’s boat being pushed from sandbar just prior to the accident

The YouTube Video below shows people pushing on the boat while the engines are kicking up a lot of water.

DJ Laz Boat Push Video

DJ Laz Boat Push Video Local 10 News

Shutting Down Your Online Social Media Presence After an Accident

If you elect to shutdown or temporarily shutdown your online Social Media presence after an accident, it may be more complicated than you anticipate.

Each of the numerous online Social Media sites (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Flickr, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google Plus, YouTube, and others) has their own policy, provides their own options, and reacts to your request at their own speed.

Some Social Media sites provide an opportunity to put your site on hold a while (a temporary suspension), then turn it back on at a future date and still retain all your previous materials. Some may only offer a total deletion of your materials. Those providing a temporary suspension may permanently delete your materials if you do not turn your site back on within a certain time frame.

You have to read and study each Social Media provider’s customer service materials very closely to understand their options and especially to understand their options with respect to the specific type of presence you have. For example Facebook has several different types of sites for individuals, businesses, causes, etc.

Many users of Social Media can’t imagine loosing access to all their photos so they may download them and other materials to their home computer before deleting their site. Opposing council may find those materials on your computer and make you look guilty for trying to remove them online.

Even if you shut down your presences, most social media networks allow other to echo your posts (ie. to like them, to re-tweet them, favorite them, to pin them, etc.). Those materials typically live on and are likely to include some of your wilder moments vs. the photo of the hamburger you ate last week.

Several online tools cache sites (store them), many servers store popular sites so they can serve them faster, some search engines cache their most recent visit to your site, some more recent third party tools for certain social media sites cache the sites as well. Plus some sites try to archive certain types of materials on the web, and some actually try to archive close to everything. With all these copies floating around, any efforts to delete your online social media presence may be less than successful, especially in the short term.

DJ Laz is the stage/show name used by Lazaro Mendez. The accident occurred on Sunday, 4 May 2014. The day after the accident, DJ Laz posted the following statement on his Facebook pages and alerted news outlets to the location of the statement.

“I am incredibly distraught over the unfortunate accident that occurred yesterday at Nixon Beach. My family and I send our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Ernesto Hernandez; they are in our thoughts and prayers. I have and will continue to cooperate fully with investigators during this tragic time.” -Lazaro Mendez

In this example, DJ Laz used his Social Media presence to show his concern for the deceased man’s family and his intent to cooperate fully with authorities. The statement was reproduced in almost countless news articles following up on the accident.

That same statement appeared on his Twitter account.

Then as I recall it, later that same day (May 5th) his Twitter account vanished. His Facebook account vanished the next day (May 6th).

He basically used his strong online presence to flash out a message, then shut it down.

Many of his online materials may have proven relevant to the case. For example, his Facebook accounts included many photos of him and others on his large 42 foot HydraSports boat powered by four 350 horsepower Yamaha outboard motors. His Facebook posts included open invitations to certain onwater events where he promoted Voli Spirits (Vodka) and often also included hash tags to what we assume to have been the boat dealer and to what we assume to have been a company with ties to his boat’s sound system. Among those posts, were posts inviting everybody to attend the event he was hosting on the lake that day promoting Voli Spirits. His large boat was also widely known for its orange “skin” and Voli logo.

Removing and possibly deleting these materials might be viewed as destroying evidence in some courts.

Sometimes attorneys are able to subpoena such materials directly from the online Social Media providers (Like from Facebook, Twitter, etc.). However, if they wait too long to begin that process, the social media provider may have deleted those materials and they will no longer be available from the source.

Recovering Deleted Social Presences

While those preparing to sue others or those who think they may soon be sued in relation to an accident, may deleted their online presence in an effort to avoid being hassled about some old photographs of them doing stupid things, or certain posts they think might offend others, and have no intention of deleting real evidence, real evidence may be deleted. Real evidence may also be deleted by others with full intent of destroying the materials so they will not be used against them. The courts have to make the decision if the evidence was deleted with criminal intent or not.

We are NOT suggesting DJ Laz did anything wrong by bringing down some major tenants of his online presence. We may well have encouraged him to do exactly what he did as long as it was done after consulting with his attorney AND his attorney made sure no materials directly relevant to the accident were permanently deleted.

Wiping his presence off Facebook and Twitter keeps countless snoopers from poking around in his materials relevant to the accident and from collecting information and photos of him some members of a jury might find offensive. As long as he retains materials directly relevant to the accident (his attorney could advise him what those materials are) and he makes those materials available to opposing council if they are requested (and we anticipate they will be) he has done nothing wrong with respect to shutting down his Social Media presence. But please note, this is not an official legal opinion or legal advice. We are merely trying to stimulate some discussion on the importance of social media with respect to boat propeller accident. We especially welcome comments from the legal crowd that may have differing opinions from ours.

HOWEVER, when you (or DJ Laz) instruct a major Social Media networking site to either mothball or delete your presence that request both takes time and leaves tracks. After many years of following propeller accidents online, we have discovered several tools and methods that allow us to restore sites and Social Media presences that have been changed, deleted, or are no longer online for whatever reasons. We are certainly not the only people doing this. We normally do it for our own interests trying to learn more about a specific accident and the people involved. Sometimes the information we recover has legal significance.

In this instance we recovered several of DJ Laz’s online social media presences including his Facebook and Twitter account. While there are all kinds of rules about posting materials from those and similar sites, the Copyright Fair use doctrine, only posting a snippet of the materials, and posting that snippet as an image instead of as the actual text or site allows us to illustrate DJ Laz’s materials are not really “gone”.

His Facebook account:

Image of DJ Laz's Facebook account that was shutdown

Image of DJ Laz’s Facebook account that was shutdown

His Twitter account:

Image of DJ Laz's Twitter account that was shutdown

Image of DJ Laz’s Twitter account that was shutdown

Social Media Forensics

This topic is far too broad to cover here, but we will insert one thought. If you are just Willy-nilly posting photos from your digital camera, you might want to be aware your camera or computer is probably writing quite a bit of information to those files that you do not see in the image. The textual information is often called metadata or EXIF data. For sleuths, it can be a treasure trove, including often providing the date and location the image was taken.

Some recent tools actually allow real time (and historic) geographic searching of social media (i.e. find photos posted from near Nixon Beach near the time of the accident and later on that night). These tools are being used by the news media to follow breaking news such as accidents before hashtags are assigned to the event.


In recent years, countless online memorials have appeared to boat propeller victims. Sometimes these tributes are webpages, sometimes they are videos. We have seen professionally done remembrance tributes to boat propeller accident victims like those shown at funerals. But our favorites, are the homespun ones quickly put together by friends of teenagers whose lives have been snatched in their youth. Set to music, they give you and essence of the young person’s life. Some are heart wrenching (like the YouTube one to Kali Gorzel). Others of young men losing their lives in their twenties or early thirties sometimes show a much wilder side.

Like other forms of social media, these memorials can also be very useful to lawyers trying to learn about the essence of a person to present them in a good or in a bad way. Lawyers from both sides can often find some points for their position from the same video.

While is difficult to control well intentioned friends and loved ones at times like that, there are certainly some things you would rather not see included in your loved one’s memorial videos from a legal perspective.


As a DJ, rapper, and radio personality, Much of DJ Laz’s online presence revolves around music. In today’s world, that includes videos of him performing, and music videos. Some jurors may find the content of some of those videos offensive.

While music videos have long pushed the limits and are perhaps necessary to climb the ladder and remain near the top in the Cuban-American DJ market in Miami, they may also be a liability to him if he ever ends up in court. We do understand that DJ Laz posting music videos is seen as part of his career and is vastly different that you or I posting videos of ourselves doing similar things.

One of DJ Laz’s songs with Pitbull is “I’m not an Alcoholic”. If you are representing DJ Laz, you don’t want the jury listening to that song when they are already wondering if he was intoxicated at the time of the accident.

DJ Laz is not the first person with strong ties to music to have ties to a boat propeller accident. Others include Gloria Estefan (her boat’s propeller struck and killed someone on a PWC), Travis Tritt (his son was struck on a family outing), and Kirsty MacColl of the UK (she was killed by a propeller while diving).

We find some of the music left behind by Kristy MacColl that is still online to be particularly riveting.

The Trivial Can Become Important

A couple years ago DJ Laz threw a birthday party for his then four year old daughter that was “over the top” by about any measure. She and several of her young friends were delivered by a pink stretched Hummer limo to a spa, dressed up as princesses, and basically given makeovers. Dozens of photos commemorate that event on a blog operated by the spa. Those photos could be used by some to show he might be out of touch with reality, and if his daughter ever has any legal challenges they could be used to imply she lived a “privileged” life.

YouTube host several videos of people briefly interacting with DJ Laz, often during public events (sometimes taken by one of their friends). His language, demeanor, and conduct in those videos are sometimes vastly different than the image portrayed on his own social media presences.

Historically, Only Famous and Powerful People’s Past Caught Up With Them

Through much of history, you had to be rich or powerful for people to devote much effort into trying to find the skeletons in your closet because it took a lot of effort, and because most records that were accessible were mostly of the lives of the rich and powerful.

Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and many others have changed all that. Digging up dirt on you is now easy. And its not just direct dirt, its thousands of facts that can be assembled to prove you lied about something, that you were somewhere you were not supposed to be, that you were doing something you were not supposed to be doing, etc.

Tools to Manage Your Exposure

As more people encounter some of the issues surrounding the online and shared content, small startups will begin offering solutions to some of those problems. A few have already emerged, such as SnapChat that allows you to share digital images with your friends, but they automatically delete about ten seconds after they were opened, and do not allow traditional copies to be made. If someone tries to screen capture them, you will be notified.

A Few Thoughts for Boat Dealers, Boat Builders, and Marine Drive Manufacturers

Consider your public image, recognize there is a high probability you will be sued from time to time, and make sure there is nothing you would find embarrassing in your online presence. This is perhaps best illustrated by a couple bad examples.

The poster below from Yamaha’s representative in Durban South Africa is not the kind of thing you would like to be defending in a court of law involving boat propeller accident using your outboards if drinking was going on.

Yamaha Durban ad

Yamaha Durban ad from April 2012 Ski-Boat magazine

Similarly, the video below from a Yamaha boat and outboard dealer’s Facebook page in Brazil illustrates a water party scene perhaps not much different than the one in this accident. The dealer also posted the video to YouTube.

Back to the DJ Laz accident, the boat dealer charged, Plantation Boat Mart & Marina, now says that although their name is on the side of the boat involved in this accident they do not own it. We also see Plantation’s hashtag often present in DJ Laz’s posts about his on water events. Plantation seemingly had to know their name was on the side of the vessel AND that DJ Laz was frequently posting their hashtag. Now that things went south, Plantation wants to distance themselves as far as possible from the vessel and DJ Laz. Dealers need to think about risks before they take them. This vessel is being used in highly dense, on water, party cove areas such as weekend and holiday raftups to promote liquor. It is hard NOT to envision people being injured in any number of ways. While the dealer may receive a lot of of exposure from the showcased vessel, the dealer also assume some of the risk. At the very minimum, they risk of having their dealership associated with the accident.

Is Social Media Itself the Problem?

Glenna Milberg of Local 10 of Miami, Florida ran a 12 May 2014 feature on the sandbar party area off Nixon Beach known as Mashta Flats. State and Local authorities show up in mass on weekends trying to keep some semblance of order but Social Media announced gatherings (like the Voli party) draw tremendous crowds that are not officially under anybody’s control. The newscasts mentions the same thing is happening up and down the coast in nearby counties.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Those living nearby are tired of the parties getting out of hand and all the accidents associated with them. Some mention a concern for the safety of the upcoming Labor Day crowds.

Parting Advice

You can’t prevent others from posting bad things about you or prevent them from posting photos of you doing stupid things. But, if you reel in your personal conduct a little, some of those opportunities will no longer exist. Then neither you or your friends will be posting those photos/videos of you doing things you should not be doing, or recording you saying things you should not be saying.

Drive safety, boat safely, take a boating safety class, and consider limiting your online social network exposure to one or two sites. Be aware of the processes and options to shut down your online presence, and how thorough or quick that shutdown might be. Know your social media passwords or keep them where they can be quickly recovered. If you are involved in an accident as an injured party or as someone who might be sued, visit with an attorney quickly about your online presence and how to best and legally address it. Drive, boat, live, and post responsibly.

Just After We Published this post: Social Medial Court Ruling in Europe

13 May 2014 – The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that individuals can request search engines remove links to information about that person, and if the search engines do not remove those links, that individual can bring the matter before authorities. Basically, individuals can force search engines to remove links to photos and other information that show those individuals in a bad light. If you are a European, you can expunge all those photos of you drunk in college from the search engines. The photos will still be on line, but searches for your name will not bring up links to them.

The case reference is:
Case C-131/12
Google Spain SL, Google Inc. v Agencia Española de Protección de Datos,
Mario Costeja González

Although it only applies to those living in the European Union, the ruling is creating quite a stir in the U.S. this morning (14 May 2014). Some are concerned it will allow individuals to white wash their past (sort of a “morning after pill”), allowing the them to continue to similarly deceive and take advantage of people in the future.

A Very Brief History of Social Media as Observed by Us

I came on the scene in late 1982 with my Radio Shack Model III computer with its external 150 baud dial up audio modem you actually set the phone headset in. I instantly discovered the world of dial up bulletin boards and Compuserve (the Compuserve before it was connected to the net), and later AOL and soon upgraded to a 300 baud external audio modem. In very early 1990’s I spent considerable time at “The WELL”, one of the early, pre HTML Internet communities focused on social causes. As I recall, we were running about 9K baud modems by that time and then moved up to 18K baud modems. I found The Well because it provided long distance dial up Internet service that was not otherwise not obtainable out here in the midwest. I quickly discovered Usenet (a forerunner of today’s Internet forums) and began following boating issues and discussions in

At first, there were no search engines. Navigation was purely by links. A series of long forgotten search tools (Gopher, Archie, Veronica) to navigate the text based web gradually became available.

By the early-mid 1990’s HTML came on the scene and we could actually see images as part of discussions vs. having to download every image separately. Along came faster and faster modems.

Yahoo and Google emerged.

Digital cameras coming on the scene, quickly gained acceptance, and made it much easier to take and post a photo. Digital camera image resolution rapidly increased providing better, and better images but requiring more and more bandwidth.

Dejanews archived posts to Usenet groups and was later acquired by Google and Google Groups emerged. In the early days, Usenet was a tremendous resource.

As more and more people poured online, Usenet quickly became filled with spam.

The HTML side of the Internet began to grow at a tremendous pace. I still have a folding “Roadmap” of the early Internet showing all the major sites and which sites link to one another. Those days are long gone.

Along came DSL and cable modems offering faster and faster speeds.

Eventually, on the HTML side what are now seen as Social Media network websites (Facebook, MySpace, and others) began to emerge.

Continued development of cellphones, cellphone cameras, and social media software put a camera in everybody’s hands everywhere and gave them the ability to post photos of anything anywhere, including photos of you when you are not at your best.

Twitter somewhat reversed the scene (compact your thought into 140 characters or less of text), then later added photo capabilities as well.

As bandwidth capabilities increased, photos and video became much more prevalent in online Social Media conversations and some sites began to focus on them alone (Flickr, YouTube, etc.). As the Internet continues to mature and high speed access became even more widely available, Pinterest, Instagram, and others continue to enter the swirl.

After the now well known social media network powerhouses became established a while, a wave of tools and accessories for interacting with them and for finding things of interest to you began to emerge, many of them from very small startups. Some of those tools were designed to track market presence, things being said about your brand, etc.

The Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995 was the first major news event I rode live online following countless news feeds and individuals reporting from the scene relaying information to my co-workers (we felt the blast 75 miles away). Since then, I have closely followed many major emerging news events including major boating industry events (OMC shutdown/bankruptcy), major marine accidents (Bright Field crash), live boat propeller trial courtroom video feeds from CVN (Listman), and major boat propeller accidents (many) as the information begins to pour online, including the DJ Laz accident.

I have also established techniques to archive much of that information as it pours in as it is often temporary in its existence online.

Plus I have identified and used countless tools to recover websites and social media posts that appear to be no longer present online (deleted sites, deleted presences, deleted posts, deleted images, etc.). These tools can be very useful in searching for information relative to accidents, identifying leads, identifying similar accidents, locating people, etc.

Perhaps the best known example of our recovery of deleted materials is the 2012 Yamaha incident in which Yamaha posted considerable coverage of their new propeller guards for flood rescue outboards. Yamaha told the world how great these new propellers guards were, and how they were available for all Yamaha outboards. Yamaha made several claims in direct conflict with statements they and the industry make against propeller guards in the courtroom. We posted coverage of the new Yamaha propeller guards and applauded Yamaha for developing them. As soon as Yamaha found our post, their previous posts about these new guards vanished from the web. It was as if their celebrated propeller guards had never existed. We tried to encourage Yamaha to repost those materials or explain why they removed them. Yamaha refused to respond, so we recovered and re-posted those materials ourselves at Yamaha Possible Coverup of Propeller Guards Exposed.

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