Businesses increasingly rely upon a variety of social media platforms to promote and market their companies. From Facebook and Twitter to Instagram and Tik Tok, it’s virtually impossible to run a business without using social media. However, not all social media is benign. In fact, many companies – especially smaller ones – can easily make mistakes in their social media usage.
And if your business isn’t careful, it could wind up in court. Rosenbaum & Taylor can defend your company against legal claims involving social media. Our New York business lawyers also advise companies on how to avoid problems in the first place.
Here are a few social media mistakes your business may be making:
Businesses routinely use photographs they find on the internet to market their goods and services. This may include modifications to photos, such as overlaying them with brand logos. But photographs are protected by copyright law. And it’s not always easy to determine who owns the copyright. It might be the original company who created the photo, someone in the photo, or a photographer. And even this fact can be difficult to ascertain as photos are downloaded and reposted constantly.
Using a photograph without the right to do so could get your company in trouble. If you don’t have the owner’s permission to post the picture, it’s not worth the risk. The good news is there are companies from which you can purchase photo licenses for a reasonable price.
Fake Reviews and Testimonials
Posting fake reviews of your business, a practice known as astroturfing, isn’t just poor ethics. Your business could also be risking legal action. States are cracking down on astroturfing, calling it unfair and deceptive business.
Astroturfing may take the form of a completely fake review from a dummy social media account. Another variant is paying someone with a real account to make up a testimonial about your business. If it’s discovered that your business is doing this, you could be jeopardizing your reputation and inviting legal problems.
Contests and Promotions
It’s a fairly common practice for companies to run contests and similar promotions on their social media pages. This may sound like a relatively harmless practice. But contests, sweepstakes, and the like can implicate a number of laws. States have restrictions on gambling and lotteries, for instance. And if your contest is not set up properly, it could run afoul of these and other laws.
The Federal Trade Commission and states have various guidelines for how to legally run contests. An experienced New York business law attorney can advise you.
Most companies have a designated individual who operates the social media accounts. Often, these social media managers operate with a great deal of autonomy. But it’s a good idea to monitor your social media account, including posts and comments. This is especially true with respect to content that concerns competitors or private citizens. Remarks made about other companies or individuals could be considered defamatory in a certain context.
How Can a New York Business Attorney Help?
There are two ways a knowledgeable business lawyer can protect your company. First, we can advise on policies and procedures you should adopt with respect to social media usage. We know the laws that govern social media and we understand matters like those above. Second, our firm can defend your business against lawsuits involving social media. Where possible, we work to settle lawsuits filed by individuals and governments.
Have questions about your company’s social media usage? Are you facing legal action because of it? Turn to the New York business law team at Rosenbaum & Taylor. Call us today.