Social Media Laws and Their Implications

Whether you use social media for business or personal use, it is easy to forget relevant laws. From accidentally disclosing confidential information, to using trademarks without authorization, there are multiple social media laws everyone should be aware of. 



Confidential Information Disclosure


For many people, it is easy to disclose confidential information on Facebook and other networks accidentally. This is especially a risk with employees who aren’t aware of the relevant law. They may accidentally share client information or trade secrets. 


If trade secrets are shared frequently, this can lead to serious consequences. Specifically, you may lose intellectual property rights. On top of that, certain websites claim ownership of anything posted there. This could lead to a legal battle over intellectual property. 



Using Trademarked and Copyrighted Materials Without Authorization


Social media makes it easy to share content and information. People tend to share memes and photos every day without concern about copyright. While individuals are unlikely to get into legal trouble for doing so, it is indeed possible. The risk is higher for businesses.


The implication of this law is straightforward. If you infringe upon a trademark or copyright, you could face legal consequences. Avoid issues by always using rights-free materials or getting permission before using them. 



Appropriation of Likeness or Name


An extension of this comes from the inability to legally use images or names of people without their permission. For example, you cannot use an image of a celebrity on your social media page without their permission. Doing so could result in a lawsuit. 



Misleading Influencer Advertising


Yet another legal risk on social media comes from influencer advertising. Companies and influencers need to be careful to avoid misleading information. Legally, influencers have to disclose their partnership and their content as an ad. 


If they fail to do so, the post can be removed. In extreme cases, it can also result in fines. As the one hiring the influencer, your company would likely be liable for some of those fines, too. The influencer may also be liable, depending on the situation. 



Fake Testimonials or Astroturfing


Astroturfing refers to hiring someone to post fake positive reviews or having employees do so. This can be considered misleading advertising and violates consumer protection laws, including the Competition Act. Brands that falsify testimonials tend to face significant financial consequences. Fines range from $50,000 to $100,000. 





Think before you post!  Be sure to follow copyright, trademark, name and likeness laws. Avoid misleading advertising, including fake testimonials, too.