FINRA unveiled Regulatory Notice 11-39, “Social Media Websites and the Use of Personal Devices for Business Communications,” to provide additional guidance on the use of social media. Notice 11-39 is not intended alter the principles of FINRA’s initial guidance, Regulatory Notice 10-06, released in January 2010. Instead, Notice 11-39 clarifies and applies the principles of Notice 10-06 to questions raised concerning the application of the rules to changing technology. Our fund clients should review Notice 11-39, especially if they utilize social media to advertise to or communicate with shareholders or potential shareholders. Advisers should also be mindful of FINRA’s stance on social media, as we suspect the SEC will consider FINRA’s approach in connection with any future SEC guidance.
Notice 11-39 is comprised of two sections, Background and Questions & Answers. Background topics include recordkeeping, supervision, links to third-party sites and data feeds, emphasizing the application of the rules to each. The Q&A provides more nuanced guidance to specific questions. Notably within the Q&A, FINRA addresses the use of personal devices, such as smart phones and tablet computers, for business purposes.