Ten (Legal) Commandments for Social Media Campaigns

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Harvard Business School and Columbia Business School are two of many prestigious institutions of higher learning to add the study of social media to their MBA curricula as the demand for digitally savvy employees continues to grow.

“In the realm of technology it’s possible for us to teach our students a tool that their bosses don’t have, and they can provide that added value from day one,” says John Gallaugher, associate professor of information systems at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management. “Social media skills are the ones that can set them apart. Those are the skills that employers are looking for.” 

Alongside the growth of social media as part of the business world there’s a rising need for those digitally savvy graduates – as well as their older colleagues – to understand the legal implications of social media as they assume jobs in major companies at work in the world of cyberspace…where legal issues are unresolved.[more]

Marketers take note. According to David Kaufman, a partner at Duane Morris – whose work focuses on mergers and acquisitions, public and private securities, private equity and general corporate counseling – companies may be liable for employee posts, and “content provider” sites are equally not protected from liability.

“It’s hard for the law to keep up with the popularity of social media and its use by companies. And in turn, it can be difficult for the companies that are actively using it to stay within the law. Compliance with the rules is complicated, and mistakes are easy, and plentiful,” says Kaufman. 
 
Kaufman has handled in excess of $8 billion in acquisition, divestiture and private equity transactions.

Following are highlights from Kaufman’s brief on: “Top Ten Rules to Avoid Legal Trouble in Social Media Programs and Campaigns.”

  1. Thou shall not bear false witness.  Be truthful.   Few problems are bigger than lies where ever they can be found. 
  2. Thou shall not steal.   While the Digital Millennium Copyright Act may prevent liability for copyright infringement from websites that permit postings so long as valid copyright owners can request removal, you should be vigilant in confirming that posters are not misusing copyrights.  
  3. Feel free to collaborate.  It is fair to have more than one god. 
  4. Thou shall keep the commandments.  Every site or program must have rules. 
  5. Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife.  It is acceptable to ogle what others are doing…But be careful not to copy what others do too closely.
  6.  Honor your father and mother.  Every company needs to develop and implement internal policies and procedures about employee and consultant communication related to their job and company. 
  7. You shall not make for yourself an idol.  If you give stuff away for free in the hope of a positive review, accept the consequences. 
  8. On the seventh day, you shall not rest.  These campaigns are a 24 hour, seven day a week effort. 
  9. We have brought you out of slavery and the desert and therefore it is fair to ask you to register. 
  10. Don’t forget to throw out or revise the rules from time to time.  Adapt and survive.  

Full commandments available here

Additional resources:

“Social Media in the Workplace: Legal Issues, Business Policies”
 
“Social media for business: Legal issues faced by employees”

It’s a clouded world as the legalese in cyberspace gathers new evidence about compliance.

 

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