March 24, 2011 Jeremy

Legal Considerations of Social Media

Social media has brought about a revolution in how people communicate with each other. This includes communication at not only personal level, but also how businesses communicate with their customers, employees, press and market in general. No doubt, businesses are very excited with this new medium, as it allows them to reach out to their audience with a fraction of cost as compared to traditional media. They are using social media for creating business communities, sharing success stories, conducting market research, identifying new opportunities, recruiting employees and even for reaching out to traditional media.

In this eagerness to use this media, it is easy to forget legal considerations of social media and neglect the possibility of legal issues that may arise out of it. Here is a list of legal considerations that businesses must take care of:

1. Know your rights: It is crucial that you carefully read all the terms of content ownership when you become a member of a social networking website. You must be fully aware of the rights of ownership of your content after you post it on a social networking website.

Many businesses are not aware that in some cases, even if you delete the content, it is still available with social media website. Ignorance can prove costly in such cases and cause enormous loss to your business.

2. Is it 3rd Party?: If you are using content that belongs to someone else, make sure that you have the explicit permission to publish that content and that you are not infringing any copyright laws.

Several businesses especially small businesses often ignore this requirement and end up in legal issues. So next time, think before you use any image, text, quote or design from any external source as you may be making yourself vulnerable to serious legal implications.

3. Do not Offend: In quest to be different and in pursuit of standing out from the crowd, businesses sometimes publish content that may create controversy and even have legal implications.

If someone finds your content offensive or defamatory and challenge it in court, you will have to defend yourself. It is not only important to ensure your content does hurt someone; it is also wise to issue necessary legal disclaimers with it.

4. Do not Mislead: It is common for marketers to over-promise a product or services but this can have serious legal ramifications. You must ensure that all information that you are sharing on a social media website is true and does not mislead anyone or you may face legal consequences.

Therefore, it is recommended that you verify all information before publishing it online and have a clearly outlined policy regarding steps to be taken before releasing content online.

5. Train your employees: There have been cases where employees of a business organization have been the reason for a business getting involved in legal issues. Employees should be trained about the usage of social media in the office environment. You must communicate to them and make them understand the importance of keeping business information confidential.

Social media marketing can be a productive marketing tool, once you know how to protect yourself from potential legal threats.

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