social media content laws

keeping you and your family safe

Social media content is a very broad category of law. There is some overlap with some laws regulating social media privacy and social media advertising. It is all about what content is allowed to be shared on social media. Some content is protected because it is private. Other content is outlawed because it is deceptive or misleading. Still other content is protected because it belongs to someone else. For help figuring out what to do about these social media laws, see the Your Options page of this website.

Deceptive Content:

  • FTC Act §5 15 U.S.C. 45 prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce. Deceptive acts include omission or practice that misleads or is likely to mislead the consumer.
  • FTC Guides Concerning the Use and Endorsements of Testimonials in Advertising (2009) 16 CFR Part 255:Truthfulness and transparency are the guiding principles of new media. Material connections must be disclosed in a clear and conspicuous manner.
  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC):  Bans unwanted texts and emails.
  • International Chamber of Commerce (ICC): Model for self-regulatory advertising and marketing frameworks around the world. 2011 update addressed digital ads.
    • Chapter D: Advertising and Marketing Communications Using Digital Interactive Media
  • Cross-Border Advertising:
    • China’s Responsible Marketing Code
    • European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA):International Council on Advertising Self-Regulation (ICAS).
    • UK: Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)
  • Occupations Code: Regulates various professionals and industries, such as acupuncturists, dentists, health spas and credit services.

Intellectual Property Infringement:

  • US Copyright Statute: Social media makes it easy to copy, paste, share and post. It also makes it very easy to violate the US Copyright Statute. 
  • Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) §512: Provides a “safe harbor” against copyright infringement claims against the provider of an Internet site that allows others to post content to the site. Conditions apply.

​​Private Content:

  • ​The Privacy Act of 1974: Protects records that can be retrieved by personal identifiers such as a name, social security number, or other identifying number or symbol. An individual is entitled to access records and request correction of these records.
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA): If claims are made on social media overstate the benefits or understate the risks of a pharmaceutical product. Promotional statements can make claims about approved indications only. The manufacturer has responsibility for user-generated and third-party content that appears on a company-created site. 
  • HIPAA Privacy Rule: Protects “all individually identifiable health information held or transmitted by a covered entity or its business associate, in any form or media, whether electronic, paper or oral.” 45 C.F.R. 160.103. This can include social media posting of cell phone pictures of patients, tweets identifying patients, acknowledgement of a patient's condition, or even a response to something a patient posts on social media.​
  • Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC):Proposed guidance on the applicability of consumer protection and compliance laws, regulations, and policies to activities conducted via social media by banks, savings associations, and credit unions, as well as nonbank entities supervised by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and state regulators.
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX):  Public companies cannot mislead investors on social media. Posted financial information must be updated to reflect material changes in financial condition and operations. Financial information released on social media should be published in a press release first.
  • FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority): ​Financial firms using social media, or allowing its associates to use social media on their behalf, must follow strict social media rules.

Other Content:

  • Communications Decency Act § 230(C)(1): No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider. Applies to offensive content.
  • Hatch Act, 5 U.S.C. § 1501: Limits certain political activities of some government employees.

State Law Examples:

  • State of Missouri Senate Bill 54: Teachers friending their students is illegal in Missouri unless it is work related.
  • California 2011 Cal. Laws chap. 181: Jurors are not allowed to use any form of communication or research about the case, including all forms of electronic or wireless communication or research.

​​For more options, see the Your Options page of this website.   

All information on this website is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Ninomiya Law, PLLC and Kent Ninomiya only provide legal advice to clients when there is a valid engagement agreement signed by both attorney and clients. The principal office of Ninomiya Law, PLLC is located in Round Rock, Texas. Ninomiya Law, PLLC is responsible for the content of this website.