Avoiding Social Networking Land Mines For Employers


This week, Facebook is responding to another round of questions regarding a recent privacy breach, resulting in an inquiry by several members of Congress. That Congress has become involved highlights the fact that Facebook and other social media sites are much more than fun networking tools.

As social media becomes part of the fabric of our society, both state and federal regulators increasingly are scrutinizing its use and abuse, including in the employment arena. As a result, there are several “land mines” for employers in the cyber-communication world, which may be avoided through careful planning and implementation of social media policies.

Land Mine No. 1: Deceptive Trade Practices. Employers may be surprised to learn that the use of social networking sites by their employees, even off-duty, may subject them to scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”). The FTC recently issued revised Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsement Testimonials in Advertising. The revised guidelines note that social media and Internet postings by employees regarding their employers can constitute improper public testimonials in advertising. If employees fail to disclose their employment relationship, their postings may be deemed a deceptive or unfair trade practice.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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