OLD Media Moves

So Facebook is now Reg FD compliant?

December 7, 2012

Posted by Liz Hester

If you’re a business journalist, you likely know about Reg FD (Fair Disclosure), the rule that publicly traded companies must make material announcements in a manner accessible to most investors. But is Facebook public?

Well, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is arguing that the social media site is a public forum after getting in hot water with the SEC for some of his recent status updates.

Here’s the post, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal:

Also from the WSJ’s blog:

The problem, it seems, is that “exceeded 1 billion hours” line. For a company whose big business is selling streaming video, that comes close enough to a sales figure to raise the eyebrows of regulators, who like to see those things published through formal channels where all investors are watching.

Facebook, Hastings argues in a reply posted today, is pretty public. He has over 200,000 followers on his page, including many in the tech media and investor community who quickly reported his comment. And besides, he claims:

“We think the fact of 1 billion hours of viewing in June was not “material” to investors, and we had blogged a few weeks before that we were serving nearly 1 billion hours per month”

That means that as a business journalist you’d better be Facebook friends, a Twitter follower, Instagram tracker, blog reader and somehow connected through every social media tool to the people you cover. This means your feeds will have to cover everyone from the CEO to the marketing officer to the press person. Good luck weeding through all the baby photos for the real news.

If Facebook somehow actually makes it past the Reg FD standard, that means more disparate places to check for information. It’s also another way sources will not have to actually speak with reporters and answer questions. Public relations staff will also have to shift how they think about talking to reporters if news is being broken through alternate channels.

But, all that’s up to the SEC and other regulators to decide. But please, Jeff Immelt, please accept my friend request.

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