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February 16, 2011

SEC to Monitor Investment Advisers' Social Media Use



As companies around the world hammer down on their employees’ personal Facebook and Twitter use while on the clock, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC (News - Alert)) is monitoring social media for a different reason – to ensure that registered investment advisers aren’t using personal sites for illicit reasons.

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Recently, the SEC sent a document request list to investment advisers to examine how they use social-media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube (News - Alert) and Flickr, according to a compliance alert posted on the website of ACA Compliance Group.

“Documentation is requested in order to identify an adviser's level of involvement with or usage of social media websites,” according to the site. “The requests have been seen to focus on social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter (and AdvisorTweets.com), LinkedIn, LinkedFa, YouTube, Flickr, MySpace (News - Alert), Digg, Redditt, as well as any blogs used by, or subscribed to, by the adviser.”

“Documentation is requested for the communications made by, or received by an adviser on any social media website. These communications can include, among others, blog postings, messages and/or tweets.”

In addition, the SEC is searching for information about how advisory firms retain records of its employees' use of social media. This includes non-business use of social media and networking sites, according to ACA. The SEC has also asked advisers to provide documentation for any third-party use of social media that is maintained by the adviser.

The agency is imposing this sweep mainly to make sure that advisers aren't using these sites to promise investors returns or engage in other illicit activities, said Adelbert Sanchez, a senior principal consultant at ACA, as reported by Crain’s. SEC also wants to make sure that unregistered funds, such as private-equity funds or hedge funds, aren't using social-media or social-networking sites to promote their funds, he said.

“Given the SEC's budget crunch, this is an easy sweep they can do from their own desks,” Sanchez said. “All they need to do is log on to Facebook (News - Alert) and search for the names of unregistered funds.”


Carrie Schmelkin is a Web Editor for TMCnet. Previously, she worked as Assistant Editor at the New Canaan Advertiser, a 102-year-old weekly newspaper, covering news and enhancing the publication's social media initiatives. Carrie holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and a bachelor's degree in English from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Carrie Schmelkin
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