Social Media Lawyers Protecting Your Online Business Reputation
There are some unique legal concerns with using social media to promote and grow your business. If you have employees, confidentiality and privacy concerns pose a potential avenue of liability. Promoting your business via statements and endorsements by employees and affiliates through social media presents another significant concern. Each business should understand these specific areas of liability if it plans on operating a social media fan page, has employees, affiliates or any other sponsored endorsers.
“Social media” is essentially a broad term that covers all Internet interactive forums where users generate the content and share information. Social networking sites (i.e. Facebook and Twitter), blogs, streaming, photo and video sharing sites, podcasts (i.e. audio and video files), wikis (i.e. websites that allow people to add content to or edit the information, such as “Wikipedia”) and other online forums are all considered as social media. Of course, most people think of Facebook or Twitter or other social networking forums as social media. But, in terms of your business, any forum or platform you operate or advertise upon that allows user generated content can cause the same laundry list of problems.
Custom Social Media Policies
Clients that have employees or use any type of third party marketers or affiliates need a written social media policy. Social Media policies serve the following objectives: 1) to protect the image and reputation of your business from the acts of your employees; 2) protect confidential information from being disclosed; and 3) protect your business from advertising liability stemming from claims made by your employees, affiliates, resellers or other sponsored endorsers. The 2009 Revised FTC Guidelines now make it clear that Internet businesses will be liable for the deceptive claims and statements made by their third party “sponsored endorsers.”
The FTC has presented a serious threat to the success of the current online marketing model, which relies heavily on third party marketing. However, implementing a sound and comprehensive social media policy and then monitoring your social media forums can greatly reduce exposure to liability. Mr. Nicolosi has helped his clients implement social media policies covering virtually all relevant forms of social media.Learn more about what your business social media policy should say.
Social Media Sponsored Endorsement Liability
If your business relies on affiliates, marketers, third-party blogs or other Internet forums to review and endorse/promote your products or services, you can incur liability for their deceptive advertising practices. The FTC revised guidelines make it clear that both the sponsor (seller) and any sponsored endorser, including any affiliate marketers, bloggers, distributors, paid posters, resellers, podcasters, video producers, etc. will each be liable for any deceptive endorsements or general claims made in promoting products or services. This applies to deceptive claims made on social media!
The FTC wants your business to have reasonable training and monitoring programs in place in order to not be held liable for claims by rouge affiliates. At a minimum, your business should have a program in place to monitor what any affiliates or product reviewers are stating about your products.
An experienced social media lawyer can help your business avoid social media liability!