The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority recently released Regulatory Notice 17-18, which contains guidance pertaining to social networking websites and business communications.
FINRA clarified a number of topics, including:
- Member firms are obligated to retain a record of communications that occur via text messaging applications and chat services between its registered representatives and investors in accordance with Rules 17a-3 and 17a-4 promulgated under the Security Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and FINRA Rule 4511.
- An associated person may, in a personal communication, link to content made available by its firm that does not pertain to the firm’s products or services without implicating FINRA Rule 2210.
- If a firm shares or links to content posted by a third-party website (e.g., an article or a video), the firm has adopted such content and must ensure that the content, when read together with the firm’s original post, complies with the same standards applicable to communications created by the firm. If the shared or posted content contains links to other content, a firm generally does not adopt that other content, although the firm may be deemed to have done so in certain circumstances (e.g., if the firm controls such other content). A firm may link to a section of a third-party website without adopting the content of such website if the link is continuously available to investors via the firm’s site (regardless of whether the linked site contains favorable information about the firm), the linked site could be updated by the third party and investors would still be able to use the link, and the firm does not influence or control the linked content.
- Firms may use native advertising (i.e., advertising that appears alongside and in a manner similar to content posted by the publisher) provided that such advertising complies with FINRA Rule 2210, among other requirements.
- Comments or posts about a firm’s brand, product or services that the firm has arranged to be posted must be labelled as advertisements. In addition, if a registered representative likes or shares favorable comments about him or herself that are posted by third parties on an unsolicited basis to such registered representative’s business-use social media website, the registered representative would be deemed to have adopted the comments and such comments would be subject to FINRA’s communication rules, including the prohibition on misleading or incomplete statements.
The guidance supplements, but is not intended to alter, guidance contained in previous FINRA regulatory notices pertaining to social media.
Regulatory Notice 17-18 is available here.