The 7 Biggest Legal Risks to Your Company When Using Social Media

How to Avoid Draconian Rules and Keep the FTC Off Your Back at the Same Time
By Brian Heidelberger Published: September 15, 2009

As an advertising lawyer, I know that times are tight and marketing budgets have been slashed. (Heck, I’ve had to go from triple-billing my clients to only double-billing them.) So, in the hopes of single-handedly lifting our nation out of this recession, I am providing my own mini stimulus package: a list of the seven biggest risks to your company when using social media.

1. EmployeesSo your CMO likes to keep his “followers” in the loop about the company’s latest product introductions. Or your newest assistant-assistant account executive likes to gossip to her “friends” about the love lives of her co-workers. Bad news, dude. Your company may be liable for these “personal” social-networking messages, regardless of whether you even knew your employee was posting them.

2. MothersYes, I said it. Mothers are a huge social-media risk. Listen, I have nothing against mothers. Even a lawyer like me loves his mother. (Hi Mom!) But your idea to send moms free stuff in the hopes that they will blog about it has legal implications. So, before you ship out a pallet of your latest soy-acacia-berry juice box, realize that the FTC requires that you make sure that moms disclose the free swag in their reviews.

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