Why monitor third-party use of social media?
It is sensible to look for potentially damaging comments about a company and/or its products or services, plus any infringement of the company’s intellectual property.
Social media monitoring can also be an effective customer service tool, for example allowing you to respond to disgruntled customers.
Issues to consider when designing a monitoring programme include:
- The type of content or activities to be monitored;
- Whether to engage an outside agency or use company systems and employees to monitor; and
- The specific social media sites the monitoring will cover.
Set up an internal response team
Responding appropriately to damaging statements or content posted by third parties may require co-ordination by employees across several departments. Consider creating a response team that includes:
- Senior management;
- Legal;PR/marketing; and
Provide training so that the response team understand their roles, the relevant legal landscape and the company’s policies.
Responding to problematic postings
Generally speaking, it is not advisable to ignore negative, false, misleading statements made by bloggers or others in the social media space.
The appropriate response will depend on the type and severity of the statements at issue and could include as appropriate, one or more of the following:
- If the post appears on a social media website, reviewing the T’s and C’s of that website and using them to frame a request to have the post taken down;
- If the offending post appears on the company’s own social media (i.e. it’s facebook page) including a disclaimer that reserves the right to remove content at the company’s discretion and ban abusive users;
- Deleting false or misleading postings if possible, or replying to the post with the correct information;
- Responding via other social media outlets such as company blog or fan page;
- Responding via a press statement; or
- Taking legal action.
Companies should thoroughly document any action taken.
Monitor for IP infringements
Copyright, trade marks and patents are all susceptible to infringement and misappropriation through use of social media. Effective enforcement of the company’s IP rights depends on a proactive, consistent policy of notifying and challenging suspected infringers.
Seek legal advice for your IP counsel if you suspect an infringement has occurred. Prevent harassment of staff via social media by clients and contractors.
Companies may be responsible for the actions of clients and independent contractors who are engaged by the company and have contact with employees.
To protect employees from harassment through social media, companies should consider requiring these third parties to comply with their policies (i.e. anti harassment policies).
Francesca Wild is an Associate Solicitor in the employment team at TWM Solicitors. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
© TWM Solicitors LLP 2013 - All Rights Reserved. Information contained in this article and on our website does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information purposes only. Recipients should not act upon it, but should seek legal advice relevant to their own situation.