The golden rules for the use of social networks for your business

The golden rules for the use of social networks for your business

Adi Marcus, Adv.
August 21, 2021

The use of social networks for business promotion is so common that it is difficult to imagine a successful business without a presence on the networks. However, many business owners assume that the rules that apply to running a business in the real space, do not apply in the virtual space and are exposed to legal consequences, which can have a significant impact on the viability of the business and its digital assets in the future. Among others:

Terms of use and platform rules - When using a business page, make sure that the content meets the terms of use and community rules in order to avoid platform sanctions that can range from temporarily or permanently disabling the business page (while losing an important business resource), and in extreme cases even fines.
Copyright - Copying or using an image or post by a business page is almost automatically considered a for-profit commercial activity that requires permission. The 2019 EU directive on copyright and related rights, which entered into force in June, 2021, establishes liability for social networks for content distributed in them in violation of copyrights and will likely result in internal enforcement.

Defamation - Social networks are a public forum that allows business owners to post information, but many business owners do not take into consideration that posting offensive information about a competitor, and even providing a platform for customers to do so, may expose them to lawsuits. The Israeli Supreme Court has already held that even a seemingly innocent act, such as marking Like or Share on an abusive post, may constitute defamation and even a group manager may be held liable.

Labor Law - Many employers entrust the establishment and operation of social networking pages to a specific employee, but do not regulate with the employee the issue of ownership of the company's digital assets and their supervision. Thus, employers may find themselves without the ability to manage the digital assets after the employee leaves (for example, dismissal of the employee who then refuses to disclose the passwords to the accounts), without ownership of the digital assets (when an employee claims rights in them), or exposed to lawsuits for actions made without the employer’s knowledge.

Spam - The ban on sending commercial messages without explicit consent may also apply to communication on social networks and require consent for disbursing marketing messages on such.
Consumer Protection Law - The law in Israel, as well as in other jurisdictions, prohibits covert advertising and misleading the consumer. While in the past Courts were careful to apply the ban on covert advertising on social networks, in recent years there has been a growing tendency to apply to digital asset operators, including various "network influencers", the obligation to disclose financial arrangements that are the base of their recommendations. Businesses that paid for positive reviews may be required to pay a heavy price both in terms of fines and in terms of reputational damage. Thus, a business owner should engage with influencers in an ethical manner that will meet the requirements of the law and reduce legal exposure.

Naturally, these are a very partial list of issues to consider when using social media and it is very important to be regularly accompanied by a law firm that has a deep knowledge of the field, and which can ensure that the business rights are maintained and it avoids unnecessary legal liability.