Nearly all companies—whether they’re focused on the B2C market or the B2B market—have embraced social media as a way to promote their goods and services and to interact with customers and potential customers. The growing use of social media has, however, created challenges for federal securities regulators who must enforce antifraud rules that were written
Broker-dealers have been reluctant to fully embrace social media due to regulatory concerns. Although the industry regulator, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”), has issued regulatory notices relating to the use of social media and the application of FINRA Rule 2210 (Communications with the Public), many gray areas have remained, dampening the use of Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media platforms by industry participants.
FINRA’s recent release of Regulatory Notice 17-18 may help to remedy that problem, however. Presented in the form of 12 FAQs commenting on the earlier regulatory notices, this latest notice provides the broker-dealer industry with greater guidance on its use of social media to communicate with customers and potential customers. Specifically, the FAQs expand on the areas of recordkeeping, third-party posts and the use of hyperlinks to third-party sites. FINRA acknowledged that the use of social media and digital communications has expanded in the time since its last regulatory notice on the use of social media by member firms, which was Regulatory Notice 11-29, issued in 2011.
The requirement that member firms retain records of communications that relate to their “business as such” under Rule 17a-4(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 applies to digital communications, including those that are made through text messaging and chat services, if the content of the communication relates to the firm’s business. Before using such services, the firm must first ensure that it can retain those business communications.…