At Least One Big Fish Enters the Murky Regulatory Waters of Social Media

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On May 25, 2011, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney announced that it is launching a staged rollout of a program that would allow its financial advisors (FAs) to interact with clients and others on social media websites Twitter and LinkedIn through pre-approved public updates and private LinkedIn emails, invitations, and introductions. Although Josh Brown's Wall Street Journal post downplayed the development as "pointless," Morgan Stanley's program marks a significant change in the use of social media by the securities industry. Morgan Stanley is taking a calculated risk to use the free-flowing and spontaneous technology of social media to communicate with customers within a context of securities regulation that heavily controls such communications, with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and industry self-regulatory organizations devoting significant attention to the issue.

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