Friending, Tagging and Tweeting: Top Five Social Media Law Issues Facing Your Client

Commercial Law WebAdvisor

09/29/2015 01:00 p.m. - 02:30 p.m. EDT

Technology Transactions and Social Media

Aaron P. Rubin


Listen to Presentation

Social media isn’t just cat pictures and making your friends jealous by posting about that great vacation you took; it’s also big business. Companies today often consider their social media pages and profiles to be even more important than are the companies’ own websites for marketing and maintaining customer engagement. But the explosive growth of social media has companies, and the lawyers who represent them, facing legal questions that didn’t even exist a few short years ago. For example, can you own a “like” or other social media connections? How do you handle employee complaints about coworkers or the company on social media? What hidden pitfalls are lurking in the terms of use that you must accept when you use a social media platform? How can you avoid running afoul of FTC regulations when advertising on social media? And, finally, how should a buyer address a target company’s social media assets in an M&A deal?

Please join Aaron P. Rubin as he explores some of these questions and provides practical approaches to help clients navigate this muddled legal landscape.

What You Will Learn

  • Can You Own a Like? Not long ago, the word “like” was primarily a verb. Now, you can give someone a like, claim to own a like or assert legal rights in likes. Today, a company’s social media pages and profiles, and the associated likes, followers and connections, are often considered valuable business assets. What is the legal status of these assets?
  • Dirty Laundry. It comes as no surprise that employees frequently use social media to complain about managers and coworkers, pay, work conditions, and other aspects of their employment. Companies often establish policies and impose discipline when employees’ social media activity becomes problematic. But what must companies do to ensure that their policies and disciplinary actions comply with applicable law?
  • Terms of (Ab)use. Unlike a company website, where the company can set its own terms for use, social media platforms are governed by terms set by the platform operator. Often, those terms are onerous and make little distinction between individual users using the platform for recreation and corporate users who depend on the platform for their businesses. What are some of the pitfalls to be wary of in social media platform terms of use?
  • Same As It Ever Was. When it comes to using social media for advertising, the media may be new but the rules are the same as ever. Companies that advertise through social media—especially by leveraging user endorsements—need to comply with Section 5 of the FTC Act, which bars “unfair or deceptive acts or practices.” What does this mean in practical terms?
  • Good Rep. A company’s social media presence, follower count, and connections may constitute valuable business assets. But buyers in M&A transactions often neglect such assets when formulating the seller’s reps and warranties. How should social media assets be handled in an M&A transaction?


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