Netflix CEO Reed Hastings caused a stir last year after he revealed that Netflix's monthly online viewing had exceeded one billion hours on his Facebook page instead of a press release or public filing. That raised concerns about whether social media posts were in compliance with the Securities and Exchange Commission's Regulation Fair Disclosure (Regulation FD) rules.
But following an investigation prompted by Hastings' post, the SEC has decided it's OK for companies to turn to Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets to release important information, as long as they alert investors in advance about which platforms they will use.
The SEC said its investigation confirmed that Regulation FD applies to social media the same way it applies to company websites -- as long as investors have been told to look for information there.
"One set of shareholders should not be able to get a jump on other shareholders just because the company is selectively disclosing important information," said George Canellos, acting director of the SEC's Division of Enforcement. "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."
Last year, Hastings' post, which was widely reported by the media, sparked a 13% rally in Netflix (NFLX) shares.
The SEC said the social media site of a company executive is unlikely to qualify as an acceptable and lawful method of disclosure without advance notice to investors.
"Personal social media sites of individuals employed by a public company would not ordinarily be assumed to be channels through which the company would disclose material corporate information," the SEC said.
Market watchers had mixed feelings about the development:
How are companies going to "alert investors" about imminent tweets? Through an 8-k filing? "Look for a spontaneous tweet from Elon tomorrow"—
Eric Jackson (@ericjackson) April 02, 2013
The Securities and Exchange Commission approved Nasdaq's plan to pay $62 million to trading firms that incurred losses during Facebook's botched public debut last May.
The four major trading firms -- Knight Capital (KCG), Citadel, Citigroup (C) and UBS (UBS) -- lost a combined $500 million due to technical glitches at the Nasdaq during Facebook's initial public offering.
And while the accommodation plan won't compensate the firms in full, the SEC said it MOREHibah Yousuf - Mar 25, 2013 12:32 PM ET
Zillow's stock fell sharply Tuesday following the disclosure of previous correspondence between the company and the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding questions about the company's sales.
Shares of Zillow (Z), the real estate website, dropped as much as 10.2% in early trading, the biggest one-day decline since November, before trimming some of the losses. By the afternoon, Zillow was down about 4%.
The stock first began to fall after some written exchanges from August MOREHibah Yousuf - Oct 2, 2012 1:51 PM ET
Nasdaq can't seem to put the Facebook IPO debacle behind it.
Shortly after the botched IPO, Nasdaq proposed a $40 million settlement to compensate brokers who were affected by trading glitches on Facebook's opening day (May 18).
Nasdaq (NDAQ) upped that figure to $62 million in mid-July, and Nasdaq CEO Bob Greifeld called it "definitive" during a July 25 conference call with analysts.
Citigroup (C) and UBS (UBS) have come out swinging. In MOREMaureen Farrell - Aug 23, 2012 12:33 PM ET
Nasdaq is hopeful that its most recent compensation plan will satisfy the trading firms that incurred losses during Facebook's botched debut May.
During the company's earnings conference call with analysts Wednesday, Nasdaq CEO Robert Greifeld said its plan is "definitive" and said there haven't been any negative comments about it since Nasdaq boosted the size of the compensation fund to $62 million last week.
"I would definitely highlight the absence of negative comments MOREHibah Yousuf - Jul 25, 2012 2:25 PM ET
As it polices the seedy underbelly of Wall Street, the Securities and Exchange Commission is taking on financial wrongdoers of all sorts, including the Amish.
The SEC announced a deferred prosecution agreement Wednesday with the Amish Helping Fund, a not-for-profit organization that provides home loans to Amish families in Ohio.
The Amish financiers allegedly misled investors by failing to update the fund's offering memorandum, which was drafted when it was founded by MOREBen Rooney - Jul 18, 2012 1:44 PM ET
A battle is brewing over how the swaps or derivatives market is regulated.
As part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission agency was tasked with the job of monitoring the $700 trillion derivatives market. Derivatives are the instruments behind JPMorgan's (JPM) recent loss of at least $2 billion and the trades that helped blow up AIG (AIG), Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns.
But CFTC chairman Gary MOREMaureen Farrell - Jun 7, 2012 5:11 PM ET
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