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Social Media Archiving Needs

Social Media Archiving: What do you REALLY need?

While many industries have dived into social media with abandon to reap the benefits of free mass communication, financial firms have been forced to take a more cautious approach.  The heavily regulated financial industry has looked for guidance from FINRA concerning recordkeeping and approval policies, and there’s been a lot of talk about how social media’s landscape-shifting nature might change compliance rules for the industry.

Fortunately, FINRA has been very helpful in defining its expectations, most recently at the regulator’s annual Advertising Regulation Conference.  From an archiving perspective, this list reinforces the idea that firms should implement strong retention policies for social media.  Nearly everything must be captured to remain compliant.  Here are some guidelines based on FINRA’s indications at the conference:

  • Both static and interactive web content must be archived.  Financial firms have been advised to consider whether their content is static or interactive.  Static content consists of pre-planned communications (such as traditional website ads) that can’t be altered, commented on, or quickly re-posted.  Interactive content consists of spontaneous communications (such as Twitter or LinkedIn posts) that are open to comments or dialogue.  Though static content must be pre-approved by FINRA to remain compliant, BOTH types of communications must be archived.
  • Third-party comments to firm-authored posts must be archived. To what extent is a firm held responsible for third-party comments or posts on social media platforms?  FINRA has advised that since a firm can’t control what is posted in a dialogue on Facebook, Twitter, or similar online community, a firm is not held officially responsible for such interactive content.  However, these comments and posts must all be captured to remain in compliance with recordkeeping requirements.
  • The critical feature of any social media compliance solution is archiving. The ability to archive content (and reproduce it in a timely manner to a regulator) is the most important feature of any solution for social media compliance.  Although some firms may look for pre-approval features to aid the following of internal approval policies, FINRA has made it clear that the single indispensable requirement is that social media content be captured and stored unaltered.  Make sure your archives can be re-played if your posts contain rich media like audio or video.

In summary, the keys to compliance are clearly defined social media policies, the implementation of such policies, and an emphasis on record-keeping and retention of social media content.  When regulators come knocking, financial firms should be prepared to demonstrate an archiving solution for their social media content that fully meets regulatory requirements.

Now that firms are clear on what FINRA expects, the new year can bring new freedoms in social media ventures… as long as the essential steps are taken to remain compliant.

For more information please visit our social media archiving page.

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