Delivering non-public material information through Internet-based social media, especially social networking sites such as Facebook, LindedIn, and Twitter, means that this information will first reach only a fraction of the investing public — those who “follow” the company using those platforms. As illustrated by the hypothetical below, this may create a potential “Reg FD” issue for a public company. As we addressed in a previous blog, the SEC has recently issued guidance to investment advisers concerning their use of social media. We have also addressed in a previous blog that FINRA, too, has issued Regulatory Notices which make it clear that member firms are expected to have policies and procedures in place that cover the use of social media by the firm and its associated persons. While direct guidance to public companies on the use of social media to report a company’s material financial matters has yet to issue, this post offers suggestions for avoiding pitfalls in this regard.
Tagged: Social Media
Ex-Juror Who “Friended” Defendant Faces Jail for Bragging on Facebook About Dismissal From Jury Duty
By now, attorneys should know to advise their clients to watch out for Friend requests from jurors during a trial. The latest debacle concerning jurors use of social media involves a juror “friending” a party and then bragging about his resulting dismissal from the panel. For that juror, his Facebook antics landed him a three-day jail sentence. Click here and here for additional coverage regarding this incident.
Having recognized the challenges regarding jurors’ use of social media in the courtroom, the Committee on Court Administration and Case Management requested that the Federal Judicial Center (“FJC”) survey district court judges to identify effective mechanisms to curtail this growing problem. In response, the FJC queried 952 district judges and issued Jurors’ Use of Media During Trials and Deliberations, which demonstrates that despite the various strategies devised, it is virtually impossible to prevent jurors’ use of social media and is equally difficult to detect each and every impropriety. This issue is not novel; in fact, this blog has previously reported on instances where jurors’ use of social media had a significant impact on a proceeding as well as suggestions on how to avoid such pitfalls. Click here for those postings.
Lester v. Allied Part 2: “Clean Up” of Compromising Social Media Evidence Can Result in Severe Sanctions
Though some practitioners might be in denial, the follow-up sanctions orders in Lester v. Allied Concrete Co. et al. dated May 27, 2011 and September 23, 2011 should leave no room for doubt that preservation of social media is as important as any other electronic data or discovery. Similarly, the penalty for intentionally destroying such evidence may reach beyond the purse strings.
Ooops, They Did it Again — Jurors Continue to Improperly Use the Internet, and Courts Struggle with Solutions
All over the country, courts are struggling with how best to prevent juror communications and/or research on the Internet, including on social media such as Facebook. What’s the solution? Thus far, there is no clear answer, as evidenced by a recent New Jersey case in which a juror dodged sanctions for contempt after researching a child sex-crime case involving a former pastor on the Internet — even after being instructed to refrain from such Internet research.
Broker-dealers and investment advisors face a variety of legal and compliance ramifications resulting from the expanding use of social media for business purposes. It is now commonplace that an entity or individual in the securities industry will employ a combination of social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn to market and network with their investors and potential investors. For example, an investment advisory firm may establish its own Facebook page where industry-related information may be posted, an investment advisor may “tweet” investment and wealth management strategies, or a registered representative may present his experience, licensures or his own opinions on trending stocks on his LinkedIn page.
In a trademark infringement case involving two restaurants, Katiroll Company, Inc. v. Kati Roll and Platters, Inc. et al., Plaintiff sought a spoliation inference, alleging various discovery abuses involving several types of evidence including social media. Specifically, Plaintiff requested sanctions for the individual Defendant’s failure to preserve his Facebook pages in two different ways. Recognizing that Facebook users change their pages frequently given the nature of the media at issue, Chief Judge Brown of the District of New Jersey crafted a creative remedy, which was based in large part on the level of prejudice to Plaintiff.
The Fifth Annual Gibbons E-Discovery Conference Closes With Helpful Guidance on Drafting Records Management Policies
An effective and up-to-date set of records management policies may help companies reduce the likelihood of sanctions and other adverse consequences by ensuring records are retained and preserved in accordance with legal requirements, according to Gibbons Director Phillip Duffy; TechLaw Solutions’ Northeast Regional Director Michael Landau; and Inventus LLC Senior Consultant Bryan Melchionda.
The Fifth Annual Gibbons E-Discovery Conference Kicks Off with an Interactive and Thought-Provoking Overview of the Past Year’s Pivotal E-Discovery Case Decisions
The Fifth Annual Gibbons E-Discovery Conference kicked off with an interactive overview of the important judicial decisions from 2011 that shaped and redefined the e-discovery landscape. Before an audience of general and in-house counsel, representing companies throughout the tri-state area, the esteemed panel of speakers, including Michael R. Arkfeld, Paul E. Asfendis, and Mara E. Zazzali-Hogan, moderated by Scott J. Etish, tackled the issues faced by the courts over the past year. Through a series of hypotheticals, the panelists and attendees analyzed and discussed how to handle the tough e-discovery issues that arose and how the courts’ decisions again reshaped the e-discovery landscape as we know it. Litigation hold protocols and spoliation concerns, the use of social media in discovery with its attendant ethical concerns, and the use of social media and the Internet in the courtroom were the hot topics of the day. This interactive overview of the past year’s hot button, e-discovery issues was an instant success and clearly set the tone for the remainder of the conference.
The National Labor Relations Board’s Acting General Counsel recently issued a report and press release summarizing the outcomes of recent NLRB cases involving employees’ use of social media and the legality of employers’ social media policies. Among the cases discussed in the report are several in which the Board found that provisions of employers’ social media policies violated Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act, which prohibits work rules that would “reasonably tend to chill employees in the exercise of their Section 7 rights” to engage in “concerted activities” for the purpose of “mutual aid or protection.”