SEC Clears Social Media As An Acceptable Form For Company Announcements

by Laura Anthony, Esq. on April 10, 2013 in Form 8-K, Regulation FD, SEC Guidance, Securities Attorneys, Uncategorized

On April 2, 2013, the Securities Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued a report confirming that companies can use social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, to make company announcements in compliance with Regulation Fair Disclosure (Regulation FD) as long as investors are alerted as to which social media outlet is being used by the company.  The report was issued following an investigation into a Facebook posting made by Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix.  The SEC declined to pursue an enforcement action against Mr. Hastings.

Regulation FD requires that companies take steps to ensure that material information is disclosed to the general public in a fair and fully accessible manner such that the public as a whole has simultaneous access to the information.  Regulation FD is designed to ensure that all investors are on an even playing field in terms of access to material information.  Regulation FD ended the era of invitation-only conference calls between company management and a select group of brokers and investment bankers, in which plans and earnings would be discussed and material information shared in advance of such information becoming public knowledge.

In its report issued on April 2, 2013, the SEC confirmed that Regulation FD applies to social media in the same manner that it applies to company websites.  The SEC has previously issued guidance stating that company websites are an effective means of delivering information in compliance with Regulation FD, as long as the investing public has been informed that they are to look to the company website for such information.

In the short term, social media should be used cautiously and only after a company is comfortable that it has properly informed the investing community which social media site is being used.  The current guidance and standards associated with posting information on a website apply to social media.

To be cautious, I would advise a company making social media postings to also file a Form 8-K and issue a press release informing the general public of the postings and disclosing which social media site it is using.  In addition, companies that decide to use social media should create an account for the company and not allow management to use personal accounts for posting information regarding the company where an investor would not reasonably look for such information.

The Author

Laura Anthony, Esq.
Founding Partner
Legal & Compliance, LLC
Corporate, Securities and Going Public Attorneys
LAnthony@LegalAndCompliance.com

Securities attorney Laura Anthony and her experienced legal team provides ongoing corporate counsel to small and mid-size private companies, OTC and exchange traded issuers as well as private companies going public on the NASDAQ, NYSE MKT or over-the-counter market, such as the OTCQB and OTCQX. For nearly two decades Legal & Compliance, LLC has served clients providing fast, personalized, cutting-edge legal service. The firm’s reputation and relationships provide invaluable resources to clients including introductions to investment bankers, broker dealers, institutional investors and other strategic alliances. The firm’s focus includes, but is not limited to, compliance with the Securities Act of 1933 offer sale and registration requirements, including private placement transactions under Regulation D and Regulation S and PIPE Transactions as well as registration statements on Forms S-1, S-8 and S-4; compliance with the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, including registration on Form 10, reporting on Forms 10-Q, 10-K and 8-K, and 14C Information and 14A Proxy Statements; Regulation A/A+ offerings; all forms of going public transactions; mergers and acquisitions including both reverse mergers and forward mergers, ; applications to and compliance with the corporate governance requirements of securities exchanges including NASDAQ and NYSE MKT; crowdfunding; corporate; and general contract and business transactions. Moreover, Ms. Anthony and her firm represents both target and acquiring companies in reverse mergers and forward mergers, including the preparation of transaction documents such as merger agreements, share exchange agreements, stock purchase agreements, asset purchase agreements and reorganization agreements. Ms. Anthony’s legal team prepares the necessary documentation and assists in completing the requirements of federal and state securities laws and SROs such as FINRA and DTC for 15c2-11 applications, corporate name changes, reverse and forward splits and changes of domicile. Ms. Anthony is also the author of SecuritiesLawBlog.com, the OTC Market’s top source for industry news, and the producer and host of LawCast.com, the securities law network. In addition to many other major metropolitan areas, the firm currently represents clients in New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Atlanta, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Washington, D.C., Denver, Tampa, Detroit and Dallas.

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