Influencers Beware: How to Navigate the Legal Side of Social Media


Regardless of your role in the industry, if you work in social media or marketing, chances are you probably don’t have a legal background, but maybe you should? 

Since essentially all businesses have some sort of a social media presence in today’s world, they must keep up with all of state and federal laws relating to social media. In addition, if you’re a social media influencer, you too have to comply with laws and regulations surrounding your endorsements. 

To better help businesses and influencers navigate these sometimes murky waters, the Social Media Association welcomed 3 members from the law firm, Olshan, Frome, Wolosky LLP during last week’s webinar, The Legal Side of the Digital Marketing World. The panelists featured Andrew Lustigman and Mary Grieco who are Partners at Olshan and Morgan Spina who is an Associate. 

The panelists spoke about how whether you’re a business or an influencer, you want to make sure that you embrace disclosure and make it your own. You should be clear about your relationship with the brands you’re talking about in your social media. The best policy is just to be upfront and honest which could mean saying “I received this product from the brand, but my opinion about the product is my own”. Doing so can avoid legal trouble and receiving letters for non-compliance. Celebrities such as Kourtney Kardaish and Emily Ratajkowski have received warning letters for non-compliance about their endorsement of products on social media. A good rule of thumb that was discussed during the webinar is to make sure that you disclose your relationship with the brand in the first 3 lines of a social media post.

Another topic of conversation during the webinar was how to handle pictures that are posted on social media. You should make sure that you understand where your pictures are coming from and that you have express permission to use pictures that were taken by someone else. This includes reposting pictures from other accounts, especially pictures from paparazzi. The three panelists talked about how you don’t want to mess with the paparazzi and their pictures as they usually end up winning those types of cases.

Finally, if you’re running a contest or sweepstakes on your social media accounts, you want to make sure you follow the law as there are risks to running these types of campaigns. A good tip is to think and discuss the social media promotion before bringing it to your followers. This will help you avoid unnecessary headaches down the line. 

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