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
Groupon will report its fourth-quarter earnings in two weeks. Is the worst over for the troubled daily deals stock?
One analyst seems to think so. Arvind Bhatia of Sterne Agee upgraded Groupon (GRPN) from "neutral" to "buy" on Wednesday morning. Shares popped 5% on the news.
Groupon has enjoyed a stellar run in recent months. The stock has more than doubled from the 52-week low it hit in November. But you have MOREPaul R. La Monica - Feb 13, 2013 12:15 PM ET
Facebook's (FB) stock is finally starting to live up to the lofty expectations that many investors had for it back in May when the company went public.
Shares of Facebook rose more than 8% Monday after analysts at Bernstein and BTIG upgraded the stock. Facebook has now rallied nearly 50% since touching a low of $17.55 in early September. The stock, currently around $26, is trading at its highest level since MOREPaul R. La Monica - Nov 26, 2012 12:44 PM ET
LinkedIn (LNKD) continues to be the preeminent social media stock. The company reported earnings after the closing bell Thursday that topped forecasts, sending shares up more than 1.5% Friday.
The stock pulled back as Friday wore on -- shares were up as much as 8% shortly after the market opened -- but they remained in the black even as other social media companies tumbled along with the broader market. Reviews site MOREPaul R. La Monica - Nov 2, 2012 12:38 PM ET
Many of Facebook's rank-and-file employees got their first chance to dump their shares Wednesday as U.S. financial markets opened for the first time this week.
Shares of Facebook (FB) declined more than 4%, as a total of 234 million shares became newly eligible for sale. About 50 million Facebook shares exchanged hands in the first hour of trading.
For many of Facebook's employees, whose so-called restricted stock units (RSUs) converted to common stock last week MOREHibah Yousuf - Oct 31, 2012 11:20 AM ET
Facebook's stock surged more than 19% Wednesday, marking its best one-day gain since the company went public by far, as investors welcomed a healthy boost in sales.
The social media giant delivered third-quarter sales of almost $1.3 billion when it reported earnings after the closing bell Tuesday. That's up 24% from a year earlier.
In particular, investors were impressed by Facebook's ability to earn about $150 million from mobile, accounting for 14% MOREHibah Yousuf - Oct 24, 2012 4:01 PM ET
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Paul R. La Monica. Other than Time Warner, the parent of CNNMoney, and Abbott Laboratories, La Monica does not own positions in any individual stocks.
Facebook (FB) is on a tear lately. Shares are up about 17% since CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference last week and merely stated the obvious: that the performance of the stock after MOREPaul R. La Monica - Sep 20, 2012 1:05 PM ET
Shares of Facebook (FB) were having a nice day for a change on Wednesday. But another social network stock more accustomed to being a darling of Wall Street was also gaining ground. LinkedIn (LNKD) was up more than 6% after an analyst at Jefferies resumed coverage on the stock with a "buy" rating. Shares are now only about 7% below the all-time trading high that LinkedIn hit when it debuted MOREPaul R. La Monica - Sep 5, 2012 2:41 PM ET
Sina Corp., which operates China's Twitter-like microblogging site Weibo, posted a surprise second-quarter profit of $33.2 million, more than triple the amount a year ago.
The results, which included an 11% jump in revenue, blew investors away since analysts had predicted that the company would post a slim loss for the quarter. Shares of Sina (SINA), surged 14% to their highest level since May.
Sina's CEO Charles Chao noted that Weibo, which MOREHibah Yousuf - Aug 16, 2012 3:22 PM ET
At this rate, Groupon (GRPN) may never get back to a $6 billion market value. That number, in case you forgot, is what Google (GOOG) reportedly offered to buy Groupon for back in 2010. Groupon went public instead.
Shares of Groupon plunged 23% Tuesday to a new all-time low after the company reported revenues that missed forecasts and sluggish guidance after the bell Monday. Groupon's market value is now below $4 MOREPaul R. La Monica - Aug 14, 2012 10:22 AM ET
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