With the ever-increasing use of the Internet and social media, it can be difficult for some companies and businesses to protect themselves against possible legal ramifications. Knowing how to reduce your legal risks can help prevent you and any of your employees from being sued.
Avoid Misleading or False Advertising
Many individuals may not be aware that print media and social media fall under the same guidelines when it comes to honest advertising. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) mandates that businesses refrain from making misleading or untrue statements, either about themselves or about another business entity. There is special significance placed on the importance of not misleading customers regarding health and money.
Reduce your company’s risk through:
- Implementing clear guidelines to your employees about appropriate conduct, including on social media.
- Not making announcements online that wouldn’t be said offline, as the laws are the same in either case.
- Retaining a lawyer who regularly monitors the company’s social media activity.
Don’t Share Employment-Related Content Online
Anything related to personnel or human resources should be kept confidential and not shared on social media. This includes personal information, business secrets, client information and profits. A company can reduce its risk by writing clear guidelines about what type of information shouldn’t be shared.
Protect Intellectual Property and Copyright
If you share someone’s content on social media, including images and written text, the content should be attributed to whoever owns it. Additionally, some content can’t be shared without explicit permission. If you share this property without permission, you could become legally liable. Let your employees know the guidelines for sharing intellectual property on social media.
If a business makes false claims that can harm a competitor’s character, this is referred to as defamation. Employers should be cautious of sharing “opinions” about competitors, because it is hard to prove that a statement is just an opinion in court. In these situations, the court will determine whether the statement was in fact an opinion.
Keep Privileged and Confidential Information Private
All confidential information between a company and a client should be kept off social media. Information spreads quickly through such mediums and could easily land in the wrong hands. The company should instead safeguard this information in order to avoid the risk of a lawsuit.
You can protect yourself and your company by making your employees aware of guidelines regarding social media. Doing so will lessen the chance of a lawsuit down the road.
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