Social Media and the Law 2013: 9 Considerations In Drafting a Social Media Policy

Here is a quick update on the legal considerations of social media that I presented to my class this week.  It’s a dangerous world online. This presentation covers some of the issues that you may not even consider within your organization.

Having trouble viewing the video, click here.

Factors to Consider When Drafting the Social Media Policy

1. Copyright Concerns – Is the information that you are posting protected by copyright? If so, are there any exceptions? Can you use a Creative Commons license to use  the content?

2. Defamation – Considerations about libel lawsuits in social media.

3. Disclosure and Terms of Service – Are you being paid for this advertisement? If so, are you disclosing that?

4. Privacy – Are you invading someone’s privacy by posting that Instagram? Are you abusing someone else’s privacy by sharing information that was not intended for broadcast?

5. Business Torts – Are your trade secrets protected or being shared on social media? Is someone using social media to induce someone to breach a contract?

6. Liability for Blog Comments – Generally, the owner of the blog is not liable for the comments posted on the blog unless the blog owner alters the contents of the comment in some way, which “re-publishes” the material.

7. Employment Discrimination – Are hiring decisions being made based on information gathered from social media sites?

8. Misuse of Accounts – Have Hootsuite packed with all your personal and professional social media accounts. What if the wrong message goes to your audience?

9. Vicarious Liability – When looking for someone to sue, follow the money. Vicarious liability imputes the liability of the individual to their employer.

Approach to Create Your Social Media Policy

1. Don’t start from scratch. Check out these starting points.

2. Build with a team from the company.

3. Follow industry regulations. FTC, SEC, FDA.

5. Decide whether to build a guideline or policy, or both.

6. Have an attorney review and modify the policy.

Finally, Considerations to cover :

  • Have the employee review and sign the agreement.
  • Clearly define “who” may speak on behalf of the company.
  • Protect proprietary / confidential information.
  • Advise employee about copyright infringement.
  • Clearly define “scope” of behavior.
  • Establish editorial process around publication.
  • Safeguard against multiple account management.
  • Clear engagement rules for recruiting.
  • Clear engagement rules for angry customers.


If you would like to see the deck, you can find it here:

Jeremy Floyd

Jeremy Floyd is the President at FUNYL Commerce. Formerly, he was the CEO and President of Lirio, Bluegill Creative, a marketing and communications firm in Knoxville, Tennessee. In addition to managing the digital strategies, Floyd was an adjunct professor for the University of Tennessee Chattanooga MBA program teaching digital strategies and social media. Floyd blogs at and tweets under the name @jfloyd. Jeremy is licensed to practice law in the State of Tennessee and holds a law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from MTSU in English and Philosophy.

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