SEC says corporate information can be spread on Twitter, Facebook

Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings speaks at the Facebook f8 conference in San Francisco in 2011.
(Paul Sakuma / Associated Press)

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Securities and Exchange Commission says companies can use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to disseminate key information just as they already do on corporate websites.

But, the agency said, companies must make it clear that they plan to make that information available on social media outlets so that investors know where to look for it.

The SEC issued guidance in 2008 allowing companies to post information on websites as long as they alert investors.


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“Most social media are perfectly suitable methods for communicating with investors, but not if the access is restricted or if investors don’t know that’s where they need to turn to get the latest news,” said George Canellos, acting director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.

The SEC had investigated a Facebook post from Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings in which he said that Netflix subscribers had viewed 1 billion hours in June for the first time.

At issue is whether Netflix had violated rules that require that investors have equal access to information. Netflix did not report this information to investors through a press release or regulatory filing. The post caused Netflix’s stock to jump. Hastings had never before used his Facebook page to announce company metrics, the SEC said.

The SEC said it did not commence an enforcement action or accuse Hastings of wrongdoing because of the market uncertainty about the use of social media.



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