10 Social Media Must Haves For Your Corporate Compliance And Ethics Program

Author:Ms Michelle Sherman
Profession:Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton

Companies would be legally remiss not to add a social media component to their corporate compliance and ethics program. As we have seen and reported on, agencies such as FINRA, the FTC, and the NLRB are bringing complaints against companies arising from their social media activity or employee related activity, thus, highlighting the need for companies to demonstrate that they are exercising due diligence to promote ethical conduct and prevent criminal conduct in the context of social media activity [e.g. Federal Sentencing Guidelines, § 8B2.1].

The following list is a good starting point, however, there may be additional items that a social media attorney will recommend you include in your policy depending on the nature of your business. A companion article to this one, for example, includes additional items that government contractors should have in their social media policies.

Adopt a social media policy. Include the basic list of "Dos" and "Don'ts" in your policy. Don't try to prohibit lawful protected activity such as complaining about work conditions or compensation/benefits, or whistle blowing. However, employees should be advised of the importance of communicating possible wrongdoing at the company through established internal channels so an appropriate investigation can be conducted. Implement an effective training program on how your employees should use social media, with emphasis on areas of particular concern for your company which may include, for example, protecting the privacy interests of your company clients, complying with FINRA/SEC social media guidelines, antitrust compliance, not disclosing confidential, proprietary information, and brand protection. Update your e-discovery approach and make sure that you include social media activity and cloud computing because it is discoverable. Update your document retention policy to make sure you are capturing and storing the social media activities of your company, and don't forget employees conducting business from their smart phones and tablets. Update your Sarbanes-Oxley Act compliance program to ensure that financial information posted on your Facebook fan page, Twitter...

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