How to Avoid Social Media Legal Issues

How to Avoid Social Media Legal Issues

Social media has established itself as an effective marketing channel. While social media helps businesses to connect with customers, its unique nature also leads to several allegations and lawsuits. Brands often get sued by other brands or run into trouble with government agencies. This is not surprising, though. Social media is a new communication medium and many marketers develop their best practices through trial and error.

Here are some guidelines for avoiding legal problems on social media.


Make sure that everyone handling social media for your organization understands your social media policy. You also need to ensure that your policy is enforced.

Some organizations (especially small businesses) often hire people or agencies to manage their social media campaigns. While this can be helpful, it can also lead to problems when employees, who interact on your behalf, quit. Sometimes it is not easy to decide who owns the followers of the brand. Organizations that have a fair and enforceable policy right from the beginning can prevent such conflicts from occurring in the first place. As a business owner, you should make it clear who will own your content. That said, employers aren’t supposed to ask for the social media credentials of their employees. This might even result in a discrimination lawsuit.


You need to be honest about your services, products, and endorsements. The ASA (Advertising Standard Authority) has issued a list of rules to

ensure that an organization’s business practices do not mislead, deceive, or defraud their customers. Their Endorsement Guidelines and prohibited undisclosed paid endorsements. Of course, businesses can buy endorsement from content publishers, but when they do, they should communicate it plainly.

The ASA regulates all kinds of advertisements. It can thwart predatory marketing practices and sales. ASA insists that all promotions, product descriptions, and social media claims must be accurate. That means buying fake Twitter followers or Facebook fans is a deceptive practice because according to the ASA ‘Like’ is a real endorsement of a person. If a brand has fake followers, they run the risk of facing legal action. Learn more


Brands also need to obtain permission before using licensed content. Intellectual property is another hotly debated topic. It involves trademarks, copyright, fair use, and publicity rights. It is a wrong practice to hot link images from another website. Using Google Image Search for the supporting images of your site is another wrong practice. Republishing images published across the social media isn’t fair either. You should obtain explicit permission to use images belonging to another person. Instagram affirmed this several times by updating their policy. The image sharing website has always maintained that images are owned by the people who publish them. Someone who uses your image should get your permission first. Creative Commons has a huge collection of free images.

There are a few exceptions to these rules. It makes sense for brands to work with an experienced intellectual property attorney. They should also familiarize themselves with labour laws. If your marketing strategy includes the use or syndication of content owned by other people, this is particularly true. So, play it safe.