Today more and more companies rely on social media to promote their goods and services. While social media certainly has many good uses, there are some potential legal issues that may arise when utilizing various platforms. So what are your business’s greatest risks when using social media?
- Confidential information and data leaks – Social media provides unprotected channels for data leaks and often serves as a tool for hackers to collect information that will assist them in breaching organizations. In addition, an employee may inadvertently share confidential information related to the company or its customers. To ensure confidential information is kept secret, write and implement a solid social media policy for all employees.
- Copyright infringement – Copyright infringement is a form of theft, and business owners need have a clear understanding of copyright laws and image and music usage in order to avoid litigation and embarrassment online. If there is an image a business owner wishes to utilize, they should ask for permission, or they should use licensed content provided by websites such as Adobe Stock or Flickr.
- Misleading product or service information – Business owners should use social media as they would any other advertising forum and refrain from publishing misleading or dishonest information about their product, service, or endorsements.
- Negative comments about the company – By creating and maintaining an online social media presence, there is a chance anyone, from a disgruntled employee to an unsatisfied customer, could post a less-than-flattering review of your business. It is important business owners and social media managers monitor comments and reviews. Respond to the negative comment in a professional manner on a public forum. If the issue has been resolved, ask the person who posted the comment to remove the negative remark.
- Ownership of social media accounts – Many social media platforms are set up in such a way that a business’s social media accounts are linked to an employee’s personal accounts. What happens when the employee that controls the accounts leaves the organization? Michigan, like many other states, has laws that prohibit employers from requesting passwords and usernames from an employee’s personal accounts, leaving it harder for employers to exercise control over the accounts. The best practice is to proactively set ownership expectations from the beginning by drafting a concise social media policy that addresses this issue.
The business attorneys at O’Reilly Rancilio are available to help business owners draft social media and all other policies. For information or to schedule an appointment, call 586-726-1000 or visit our website.