Facebook has released a statement Controversial, Harmful and Hateful Speech on Facebook (28 May 2013) in response to a popular campaign to address offensive or incendiary content displayed on the social media network, particularly such content targeted at women.
Earlier this week, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced new rules clarifying how companies can use Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks to publicize company information. Last December, the SEC warned Netflix of potential action after Reed Hastings, the company’s chief executive, congratulated his team on Facebook for exceeding a billion hours of video watched in a single month. The regulator was concerned the post violated the Regulation Fair Disclosure law which requires companies to disseminate material information to all investors at the same time.
Federal regulators continue to order employers to scale back the social media policies that limit what employees are allowed to say online. While companies often discourage employees from disparaging managers, co-workers, or the company itself, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) have said in recent rulings that these policies cannot discourage workers from communicating with each other with regards to improving wages, benefits, or working conditions. The agency has also ordered companies to reinstate workers fired for posts on social networks and has also urged companies to rewrite their social media policies.
The United Kingdom Office of Communication (Ofcom) has announced that it has fined Playboy £100,000 for failing to protect children from potentially harmful pornographic material shown on Playboy-owned websites, Playboy TV and Demand Adult. According to Ofcom, the website permitted users to access "hardcore videos and images without having acceptable controls in place to check that users were aged 18 [years] or over".
French regulator Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) has sent a letter (16 January 2013) to UK newspaper The Mail On Sunday, publicly reminding it "of the rules regarding the disclosing or dissemination of information about listed companies", which brings to a close an official investigation launched by AMF on 12 August 2011. According to AMF, the newspaper featured an article on 7 August 2011 "containing information about the financial position of Société Générale that seriously exaggerated the real situation", the publication of which may have wrongly influenced the financial market.
Two days after it was announced that Avis would be acquiring Zipcar for $500 million, Zipcar’s chief executive Scott Griffith appeared on CNBC to announce the sale and then posted a message regarding the sales on Twitter. By the end of that day, Zipcar’s legal team had made a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) disclosing the tweet to investors. The filing also mentioned Griffith’s appearance on CNBC and attached a copy of the transcript of the appearance. Zipcar’s filing came about a month after the SEC informed Netflix that it was considering taking action against the company for a Facebook post by the company’s CEO, Reed Hastings.
CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings, is under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for a message he posted on Facebook on July 5, stating that Netflix customers were watching more than 1 billion hours of video content a month. Information that the company was approaching that number of hours appeared on the company’s blog the month before, but Netflix did not at any point issue a press release or make a separate filing with the SEC disclosing the billion hour statistic. The information in the Facebook post was widely reported by the media and Netflix stock rose 13% on the day the information was posted. Companies are required to publicize “material” information to their shareholders.
While many companies have been quick to adopt social media into their everyday business practices, the same cannot be said for their chief executives. Many CEOs claim they are too busy to spend time using social media and do not see the business case for using the tools. Others see the risks that social media poses in the form of lawsuits, leaked trade secrets and irritated customers. For example, Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc. pushed its CEO Randy Papadellis to start using Twitter.
Some American athletes have risked being disqualified from their events in the Olympics for breaking the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) rule against promoting sponsors through social media. Inspired by the outspoken members of the U.S. team, athletes from around the world joined a twitter campaign attempting to pressure the IOC into change.
After a yearlong trial with 600 employees, Morgan Stanley is expanding their social media presence by giving 17,000 financial advisors limited access to Twitter and LinkedIn. The company is betting that social media will prove to be an effective business tool for its financial advisor employees. According to the firm’s head of social media, Lauren Boyman, using tools such as Twitter and LinkedIn has helped financial advisors win business over the past year. However, in order to comply with securities regulations, financial advisor employees must pull their tweets from a pre-written library of messages and submit all LinkedIn postings for approval. The company’s experiment that let a few employees compose their own Twitter messages is on hold for now. While some mock Morgan Stanley’s approach, others are quick to praise Morgan Stanley for going where their competitors have not. Firms like Goldman Sachs and Blackstone Group maintain corporate Twitter accounts while firms like AllianceBernstein have given their employees access to LinkedIn. Boyman also cites research that indicates pre-written Twitter messages are 3.5 more likely to raise online engagement than original compositions. James R. Cotto, a wealth advisor for Morgan Stanley, claims LinkedIn has been a more effective tool for generating new business than Twitter.
New York Times: Morgan Stanley to Expand Access to Social Media (25 June 2012)
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