Legal Issues Businesses Need to Consider with Social Media

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If you own a business, you probably do everything you can to protect it, and also to protect your personal assets. You probably have plenty of business insurance and a legal structure such as a corporation, but there may be one place where you’re vulnerable, and that’s with social media.

Social media offers outstanding opportunities for businesses to market and connect, as well as to gain a competitive advantage, but it’s not without potential risks, particularly when it comes to the law.

The following are a few of the legal issues pertaining to social media that all businesses should keep in mind.

Regulated Industries

If your business is part of a regulated industry, you need to be extremely careful. Before you post on social media, and in particular before you launch a social media or marketing campaign, you need to have a legal team review everything to make sure it’s compliant.

It’s important that you as the business owner are aware of how regulations and compliance impact your social media usage, but also that your employees are well-trained in this area.

Defamation/Harassment

Your employees probably manage your social media accounts, but have you trained them properly on what’s acceptable on social media and what’s not regarding defamation or harassment?

There can be liability issues that result from making certain claims about competitors on social media, or even in blog posts.

If an employer knows that one of their employees is doing something like this and they don’t do anything, they may be liable as well.

When crafting marketing messages on social media, it’s important to be cautious with wording, particularly when it deals with claims you’re making about a competitor.

Copyrights and Trademarks

Businesses of all sizes should be aware of legal complications that can arise from using material that’s trademarked or copyrighted without authorization. If you have a social media profile where there’s user-generated content, and someone posts trademarked content without permission, it’s your responsibility as the business to take it down in many instances.

Images

Also relevant to the discussion of copyrights are images. First and foremost you need to know, and be familiar with, the different rules of various social media platforms.

For example, Pinterest will have different terms of use than Instagram. As an example, on Pinterest, you can repin other images on the site, but if you take a picture from Pinterest and use it elsewhere on another social media site, this can be a copyright issue.

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property is something that needs to be safeguarded because it’s likely a key component of your business. Unfortunately, there are instances where employees who are managing social media profiles may inadvertently disclose information about intellectual property that should have remained private. This is another case where employee training is extremely important.

Finally, be careful with what you share about your customers and employees on social media. What can seem like something innocent may turn into a problem if you don’t have their permission.

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Susan Melony

Susan Melony

I'm a freelance writer who always scouting the web for new strategies and am slightly addicted to apps. When not tapping away at my keyboard, you are likely to find me trying out a new vegan recipe or in the park playing with my adorable Irish setter.