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More on Legal Issues Related to Twitter and Other Social Media

Who ever thought that a 140 character tweet could get you into so much trouble? If you haven't given the issue thought, fear not -- San Francisco-based Howard Rice Nemerovski Cannady Falk & Rabkin has done the work for you, with this fairly extensive parade of horrors that may result from an innocent little tweet.

By now, most of us are familiar with the potential for committing defamation through Twitter. But Howard Rice points out that if it's not just individuals who face liability; companies may be liable as well if an employee circulates defamatory content on a corporate blog or Twitter account. The speed and fluidity of media like Twitter can also invite inadvertent disclosure of trade secrets or nonpublic information about a publicly traded company.

Companies can also face securities fraud if they use Twitter or other social media to make misstatements about a publicly traded company. Here, the SEC has provided some guidance with Release No. 34-58288, which makes clear that a company employee "speaking" in a company-sponsored interactive forum may never be deemed to be acting in an individual capacity. Thus, a company could not disclaim liability by arguing that the employee's communications were unauthorized.

Does your company -- or your client's company -- have a policy on social media? After reading the client alert from Howard Rice, it's clear that everyone should.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on May 21, 2009 at 11:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)


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