Recently, numerous people have called asking for legal help due to issues they are having with Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other online social media platforms. Whether it involves the shutdown of their ad account, a report of intellectual property infringement, or a purported violation of Facebook’s terms of service, these clients are having their accounts and/or their advertising accounts shut down with seemingly little recourse.
The appeal of using social media to promote your business is understandable. As of July 2023, Facebook had over 2.99 billion monthly active users. So, it makes sense to attempt to capture this consumer market by advertising to this vast user base. However, before utilizing this platform, you should be aware of several common pitfalls and considerations.
First, make sure you maintain control of the account. Failing to ensure you keep primary control through the use of primary passwords and linking to your own account could mean that the person you delegate this authority to has the ability to hijack the account. Anyone who has joint control over the account should be under a contract with you or your business. They should understand who owns the account, what access they have, and what they are allowed to do on behalf of you or the company on the account.
Second, make sure you have the rights to post your content. Most content you are posting involves text, images, and video. These elements are likely copyrighted by the original author. If you are posting a photo taken by someone else, make sure you obtain the right to post prior to posting. If you don’t, the owner/photographer can file a DMCA notice with the social media platform and have the image removed. Multiple DMCA notices can result in deactivation or removal of your account.
Third, don’t lie. Falsifying, exaggerating, misleading, or failing to provide sufficient disclosures could result in various violations of government regulations and could lead to false advertising claims. Companies must ensure that the advertisements they make, whether express or implied, are truthful, accurate and not misleading. They also must disclose all material information about the product or service.
You spend a lot of money on advertising. If Facebook or another social media platform is your primary source of advertising, having it shut down could put a halt to your business’s success. Make sure you have the tools and policies in place to avoid a costly shutdown.
* This article first appeared in The Journal Record on September 10, 2023, and is reproduced with permission from the publisher.