There are nearly 2 billion people who use the Internet globally; and nearly 1/5th of all time spent online is on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. This is one reason why large and small businesses everywhere are investing mass amounts of dollars in social media building apps, trying to increase awareness about their products and services and trying to build thriving communities filled with brand advocates. But the risks of social media usage have become increasingly evident. Here are a few considerations:
- The release of the National Labor Relations Board’s report summarizing its rulings on fourteen (14) cases of discipline and terminations of employees participating in social media on their own time.
- Businesses that seek endorsements through social media could be held liable by the Federal Trade Commission. Given for deceptive claims about their products/services if they fail to disclose a relationship between the advertiser and endorser.
- While a company’s reputation may be hammered within social media, the federal Communications Decency Act immunizes the operator of the site from liability for comments posted by third-party users.
- An employer who gains access to an employee’s private social media page(s) without his/her permission may be in violation of the federal Stored Communications Act.
Given all these legal considerations that business must deal with, one firm, Day Pitney has decided to build out their own social media practice for their clients. Day Pitney’s Social Media Task Force is an interdisciplinary team composed of attorneys from litigation, intellectual property and employment practice areas and are responsible for providing legal advice to clients around the risks of social media that include:
- Social Media Risk Assessment
- Social Media Policy Development
- Social Media Training
This is a trend that will surely grow in 2012.