Why social media policies are a must

Social media policies that insist posters get approval from managers, meticulously link to sources, disclose relationships, and seek permission from content owners can seem like overkill to some. Everyone shares videos, copies and pastes articles and borrows images from the Internet, right? But as that wise, mythical parent once said, “If everyone jumped off the bridge, would you?”

"The Golden Gate Bridge from Marin County" September 2010 by Frank Peter Brueck is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0.

Don't jump

To protect Ursula Marinelli – Storyteller from legal action, our social media guidelines include safeguards against copyright infringement. According to the Purdue University Copyright Office, “Copyright infringement is the act of violating any of a copyright owner’s exclusive rights granted by the federal Copyright Act.”

So what happens if you violate those rights? The infringer pays actual damages, court and legal fees, and fines of up to $150,000. He or she may also face jail time. Definitely not worth “borrowing” that kitty photo from someone else’s site to help sell our products.

The water is hot

Keeping us out of legal hot water is also the reason we insist that you disclose your relationship to our site when promoting us on your personal channels.

“The (Federal Trade Commission) Endorsement Guides also state that if there is a connection between the endorser and the marketer of a product that would affect how people evaluate the endorsement, it should be disclosed.” The article goes onto say that because these are guides and not laws, violations are not subject to civil penalties per se. “But if advertisers don’t follow the guides, the FTC may decide to investigate whether the practices are unfair or deceptive under the FTC Act.” (Truth in Advertising)

Our guide also prohibits personal insults, which are unprofessional, but can also lead to libel lawsuits, particularly if we defame someone's reputation with unsubstantiated claims (a.k.a. lies). (Doskow)

So let’s just not go there.

“Copyright infringement penalties. The Purdue University Office of Copyright. https://www.lib.purdue.edu/uco/CopyrightBasics/penalties.html. Accessed 19 March 2017.”

“Truth in Advertising and Marketing. The FTC’s Endorsement Guides: Being Up-Front with Consumers. https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/media-resources/truth-advertising/advertisement-endorsements. Accessed 19 March 2017.”

“Doskow, Emily. NOLO.com. Defamation Law Made Simple: Learn the basics of slander and libel -- the rules about who can say what without getting into legal hot water. http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/defamation-law-made-simple-29718.html. Accessed 19 March 2017.”

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