SEC OKs Social Media Sites for Financial Disclosures

The Securities and Exchange Commission issued a report that makes clear that companies can use social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to announce key information in compliance with Regulation Fair Disclosure (Regulation FD) so long as investors have been alerted about which social media will be used to disseminate such information.

According to an SEC press release:

  • The SEC's report confirms that Regulation FD applies to social media and other emerging means of communication the same way it applies to company websites.
  • The SEC issued guidance in 2008 clarifying that websites can serve as an effective means for disseminating information to investors if they've been made aware that's where to look for it.
  • The recent report clarifies that company communications made through social media channels could constitute selective disclosures and, therefore, require careful Regulation FD analysis.
  • Regulation FD requires companies to distribute material information in a manner reasonably designed to get that information out to the general public broadly and non-exclusively. It is intended to ensure that all investors have the ability to gain access to material information at the same time.

According to George Canellos, Acting Director of the SEC's Division of Enforcement "One set of shareholders should not be able to get a jump on other shareholders just because the company is selectively disclosing important information. Most social media are perfectly suitable methods for communicating with investors, but not if the access is restricted or if investors don't know that's where they need to turn to get the latest news."

The SEC's report of investigation stems from an inquiry the Division of Enforcement launched into a post by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on his personal Facebook page stating that Netflix's monthly online viewing had exceeded one billion hours for the first time. The SEC did not initiate an enforcement action or allege wrongdoing by Hastings or Netflix, citing market uncertainty about the application of Regulation FD in this context.

Click here for a full copy of the SEC Report

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