What are the legal reasons that an employer needs a social-media policy? That’s a question that I get a lot when discussing social media with clients and others. And, maybe more often, “Are there any reasons that I need a social-media policy?” This is a complicated question, really. And there are lots of possible answers. But there’s at least one new legal reason for employers to stop procrastinating, get the idea out of committee, and get to work on such a policy.
Recently, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), issued regulations that affect nearly every business–at least every business with a workforce that has access to a computer (either on or off working time). The FTC is the government agency charged with the responsibility of protecting consumers against false and deceptive advertisements, among other things. The FTC’s newest regulations, called the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (PDF), sets fairly strict restrictions on employees’ use of social media to talk about a product or service offered by their employers.
Section 255.1(d) of the Guides provides that: