Facebook and Meeting Content Compliance for Certain Industries

By Andrea Vahl, John Haydon, Jan Zimmerman

Certain industries have more regulations than others regarding what they can share online. Some industries follow specific regulations outlined by law, and other companies follow self-created policies relating to social media and online activities.

If you’re in one of the following industries, you have some form of guidelines relating to online activity:

  • Finance (investments, mortgage lending, banking, and so on): Any financial institution needs to be cautious about what information it shares. Financial institutions are expected to keep records of customer communications, which could include online social media communications, and they need to be concerned about sensitive customer-confidentiality issues when interacting with clients.

  • Insurance: Insurance agents are allowed to give advice only to people in the state in which they’re licensed. This can pose a problem on a Page used by people from other states because you can restrict who likes your page by country, but not by state. If you’re an insurance agent, make sure that your posts avoid giving straight insurance advice.

  • Public companies: Publicly traded companies need to be cautious about making any forward-looking statements. The Regulations Fair Disclosure policy, introduced in 2000, states that all publicly traded companies must release information to investors and the public at the same time. If this policy isn’t followed, insider-trading or selective-disclosure charges could be filed.

  • Pharmaceuticals: Pharmaceutical companies need to worry about claims being made online and also about outlining adverse effects of their products. This restriction could include any statements made within the company’s Facebook community itself.

  • Health care: Health care industries have to be careful about patient confidentiality, which includes the fact that a patient/doctor relationship exists. They also have to beware of giving medical advice. The figure shows a Page of Dr. Karen Becker, who is a veterinarian. Her About page clearly states that she can’t give out advice. You should make a similar statement or include a link to your disclaimer on your website.

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If you’re in one of these industries, you’re probably aware of regulations and guidelines already set forth by the governing bodies related to your industry.

Bottom line: You can still have a Facebook Page to connect to your community, but you may have to keep your posts slightly more social. You can post about things you are doing in the community and things that are happening in the office, ask fun questions, and do other things to promote your business in a general way.