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Freedom of Speech vs. Slander: What Laws Apply to Social Media?

LONDON — (Marketwired) — 04/23/13 — Does your company use Facebook? Does it use Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and other social media platforms as well? Does your heart skip a beat when your colleagues and employees go online?

If your answer is -yes- then you are not alone. A recent study into social media best practices discovered that while 46% of companies are concerned by the use of social media and the impact that it can have on their brand, most remain in the dark regarding what you actually can and cannot say. Considering that practically every business in the UK, and across the world, uses social media to network and engage makes this discovery staggering.

immediate future, the social media consultancy that conducted this research survey in collaboration with several expert solicitors, found that while 92% of respondents have some form of professional involvement in social media, almost two thirds are not aware of the individual social platform-s Terms of Use. In fact, more than 68% of respondents said they had basic, beginners or no personal knowledge of social media laws.

Katy Howell, CEO at immediate future, commented, “Companies are increasingly connecting and interacting with customers, subsequently exposing the business to legal ramifications. More information, better education and an investment of time to get up to speed with the legal aspects of social media is needed.”

Ask yourself:

Do you know and follow the Terms of Use on each social media platform?

Do you follow the Advertising Standards Authority-s Cap Code, and the law?

Does the business have a social media policy of its own, and are all staff aware of it?

While awareness is crucial, a comprehensive social media policy can help to avoid financial and reputational risks. The research found that 52% of respondents actively manage business competitions, promos and endorsements via the company-s social media profiles, but that only 6% adhere to the Advertising Standards Authority regulations and the Cap Code. The fact that the report details best practice for these issues means that no serious businessperson can afford to ignore this opportunity.

Keeping up with changes in the world of social media marketing is challenging enough, let alone legal changes as well! Still, companies must be well educated if they are to succeed and to avoid spending huge amounts on litigation. If you are finding that confidential information, copyright infringement, data management and ownership of social media profiles are key concerns in your business then take advantage of this and discover what laws apply to social media. The whitepaper includes research from a study that analyses 183 responses from UK companies from a diverse range of industries, and over half of those responding were from companies with revenues over £ 50m.

The social media and the law best practice whitepaper can be downloaded for free

Infographic is available at or on request in Jpeg format

Graphs and charts from the full report are available on request

The survey report can be downloaded for free at

immediate future is one of the most respected independent social media consultancies in the UK. Planning is core to our social business consultancy and community management services. With nine years- social media experience, we help brands by creating robust, measureable social media strategies, and support initiatives with implementation — building client capabilities with training and mentoring.

immediate future is an official social media trainer for the Institute of Direct Marketing (Diploma and Certificate) and Chartered Institute of Marketing. We-ve authored book chapters, contributed to the IAB social media council and are active members of the CiPR social media panel.

Sony Europe, Staples Europe, Ideal Shopping Direct, BBC, Diageo Global, Sony Music, Ubisoft, Selfridges, Indesit, Playstation, Hotpoint, JD Williams, General Medical Council (GMC), Festo, Tealeaf, HSBC, BT, ASOS, Mirror Group, Cancer Research, NSPCC, EMI, AVG, Ferrero and GoView (PSP and Sky joint venture).

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