As a modern communicative practice, social media is subject to various types of laws created for the protection of users and other parties. It’s a relatively new way of communicating, so some of these laws and regulations are still in their infancy, but as we have lived with social media, legislators and others have found some ways to order the digital spaces that we use as “social media.”
For a company, it’s important to understand how social media policies terms and conditions will affect your business, and what a business should create in its own set of social media policies to stay compliant with legal standards.
By creating the right social media policies and terms, you are protecting your company and making sure that the enterprise is fully compliant with all relevant laws.
Social Media Policies and Applicable Laws
First, to understand how social media law might affect your business, it’s a good idea to be familiar with some of the major laws that apply.
In addition to the Americans with Disability Act, which may apply to unequal access to online systems, the Communications Decency Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act are two major laws that may come into play. There’s also the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act or COPPA, and the FTC laws around social media. These are some of the common laws that may impact your company’s social media terms and policy setting.
Protecting Trade Secrets and Intellectual Property
One component of social media law primarily protects the business itself. Your social media policy may have a section talking about the unauthorized disclosure of trade secrets over social media, or banning the practice of false endorsements or other types of fraud, for which your business could be found responsible.
In terms of intellectual property, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act provides some of the rules around certain types of copyrighted content that might be disseminated over social media. When there is a disagreement over who “owns” digital content, its postings on social media platforms might very well come into play.
Social Media Law and Privacy
As mentioned, COPPA was made to protect children’s privacy online. Obviously, your business should be compliant with the provisions of this social media-related law.
For adult users, including prospective customers and others who engage with the business over social media, some particular privacy laws apply. One is the European GDPR or General Data Protection Rule that governs the use of private data attached to European citizens. California also has its own see CPPA law, and Brazil’s LGPR is another national privacy law that can apply to business use of social media. When you look more closely at the GDPR and other similar privacy laws, you see how these rules will limit the ability of businesses or third parties to sell, buy or use private data from individuals whose sensitive or personal information may have been harvested through the Internet, often through interactions on social media. Social media attorneys can also advise on online events like contests that companies would like to operate over social media to achieve customer engagement.
Liability and Cybersecurity
Other kinds of social media policies terms and conditions are made in order to protect the business from cyberattacks. Some forms of disclosure to federal agencies may apply, or the business might profit from understanding standards like those from NIST governing how to secure networks against hackers.
Social media policy in a business may include a list of practices that are not recommended because they open the business up to spearphishing attacks, Trojan attacks, or other types of cybersecurity issues. Social media experts refer to some of these as “social engineering” attacks because hackers are exploiting the ignorance of an unwitting user’s vulnerability.
At the same time, a social media policy handbook can include rules on what employees can post on social media, including content that might be harmful to the employer, or indecent content that might be a violation of the Communications Decency Act mentioned above.
Although many of the above social media laws are federal, businesses should also be aware of what exists at a state and local level.
Help From Social Media Attorneys
Professional attorneys can help your business with developing social media policies, terms, and conditions that fully protect the business.
These types of legal representation and counsel are helpful when you’re planning social media policy for a business initially, and as you continue to grow and scale a business. As with other aspects of business law, social media is one where attorneys can continue to advise clients on an ongoing basis.
At Campbell Law Group, we have the experience and acumen to help businesses navigate the wild world of social media and the Internet. Our firm offers in-person and virtual consults, if you have any questions or concerns about the topic of this Article or any corporate, commercial, employment or family law issue, please feel free to call our office at 305-460-0145 or to schedule a consult here.