7 January 2013 5 Comments

Social Media usage and associated legal issues

Author: yinkaolaito

Yinka Olaito is happy,excited and passionate Communications & Media specialist, Trainer and speaker. Yinka Olaito helps Profits and Non-profits with effective communication and positioning for premium service delivery and returns. Yinka Olaito also has special interest in Development Communication and has consulted for noted UN Agencies. Yinka Olaito is the CCO of Michael Sage Consulting(Communication/digital media), African Child Education Right Initiatives(NGO) and Content Director, Africa Development Talk( online Platform for discussion on Policy, Governance, development across Africa) and Africa Foundation for Young Media Professionals

Social Media Laws,Social media and legal issues, Social Media and legal demands, Challenges of social Media, Law of Social Advertisisng, LAws of  Word Of Mouth Marketing, Online Communication, Brand Management online,Social media has come to the mainstream. Anyone or organization who is still in inactive mode with regards to its use may have its whole system re-examine. Before we go ahead, let me say compliments of the season and sorry for the long break of close to a month. We are back and better and we do hope and promise we will work harder this year for you to get value for your time.

Needless to say is that the purpose of social media is connecting with people. Even businesses have to become human and show their human faces if they need to prosper. The reason for this is not far- fetched. People do business with people not with organization. Social media has bridged the gap of instant communication and socialization. Nobody has a valid excuse not to get involve.

As social media begins to grow into ‘adulthood’ with its own challenges of keeping with its fast pace nature, wise nations, organizations, brands are fast discovering they cannot afford to speak, behave in an irrational manner. Hence they are developing and working with legal framework that can prevent them from heavy budget associated with legal tussles. Individuals can no longer assume they can say anything and go away with it. Laws are now being enacted to guide social media use. It is becoming essential they familiarize themselves with this global demand even if their countries have not seen a need to make progress in this regard.

As we know, most popular social media tools have their origin in the US, it is not a surprise that USA seems to have advanced in this area of developing legal framework. For users outside USA, it is good if we can understand the nitty- gritty of some of these laws so we do not fall victim. This is important because what we share on Social media has potential of affecting global audience within seconds. For some countries like Iran, they are presently developing software for controlling of social media access. Whether this is the right way to go, posterity will tell. So what are the major legal issues in Social media today:

Employment/ human resource issues: Both employee and employers are now open to legal litigations. The US National Labour Relation Acts(NLRA) is out to ensure rights of individuals and employers. Why employers can sack employees in certain cases, employees also need to know their limitations. Employers everywhere need to wake up to the need to develop social media policy which is all-encompassing and which employees are aware of. Absence of this will continue to damage organization’s tactic, image and perception. Employee needs to know they are public representative of the company they work for. As such, except they place a caveat on their social media account, people may begin to associate what they say or do with their organization’s position on the issue. Employer also needs to make clear what constitute appropriate behaviours online.

Trade related issues: Companies, brands are using social media for commercial purposes. In a casual observation, we have noticed abuse of platform rules and a flagrant disregard of lay down rules. Today we have rules governing online contest, online advertising and marketing behaviours, content publishing/ written words etc. We have such Acts like Children Online privacy protection Act (COPPA), Federal Trade Commission Acts(FTC), Word of Mouth Advertising, Social media advertising guidelines, defamation among others. Bloggers, Agencies, Communication Managers need to have better understanding of what these Acts offer so they do not run into global legal tussles. There are now consequences for casual conversation not controlled. If Freedom of Information Bill passed recently in Nigeria becomes real effective, users action or inaction may become a big issue in no distant future.

Regulatory compliance, Copyright issue: several regulatory compliances are now being demanded from online content sharing. The Copyright Acts is going to get stronger. The use of other materials without proper acknowledge will begin to command untold attention in legal arena

How prepared are you or your corporate organization for this challenges?

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