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Legal Issues Re: Social Media for the Regulated Utility Industry


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Social Media for Regulated Utilities

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Legal Issues Re: Social Media for the Regulated Utility Industry

  1. 1. SOCIAL MEDIA FOR THE REGULATED UTILITY INDUSTRY Carolyn Elefant @nxtgenenergylaw October 2011
  2. 2. Why bother with social media in an old school industry?
  3. 3. 24-7 world where information travels at the speed of light
  4. 4. Less costly than traditional tools
  5. 5. A Mobile World… Where will you get people’s attention?
  6. 6. Social media builds and reinforces connections in a collegial industry
  7. 7. What is social media? Conversations taking place 24/7 online
  8. 8. Facebook Glossary: Personal page (friends) v. biz page (“like”) “ Tagging” - identification mechanism Privacy settings Policies page
  9. 9. Twitter Glossary: Tweet- 140 character communication Follower - those who read your tweets To tweet - verb for using Twitter @carolynelefant - addressing another user DM - direct message RT - retweet (forward the message to others) # - hashtag - categorizes conversations
  10. 11. Three Common Features of SM <ul><li>User generated content </li></ul><ul><li>Third party platform </li></ul><ul><li>Mixes personal & professional; content and branding </li></ul>= Loss of control and formality
  11. 12. Legal Issues Re: Utility Use of Social Media <ul><li>Rate Recovery Issues: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Education v. Branding </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Credit for consumer-generated information </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Affiliate Codes of Conduct - Joint marketing & undue preference </li></ul><ul><li>Privacy of customer data </li></ul><ul><li>Record-keeping for regulatory proceedings </li></ul><ul><li>Counterfeit accounts </li></ul><ul><li>Safety and customer relations - accuracy and responsiveness </li></ul><ul><li>Regulators </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ex parte contact </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prejudging issues </li></ul></ul>
  12. 13. Questions for the future Social media use for public outreach and stakeholder input? Treatment of consumer-generated content? Metrics to evaluate effective use? Duty to monitor/responsibility for falsely transmitted 3rd party content? Limits on inviting disclosure of information? Universal access? Overseeing accuracy? Role of commissions v. AG/FTC? Record-keeping protocols?
  13. 14. Regulatory approaches to an evolving area: <ul><li>Regulation v. guidance & best practices </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Avoid platform-specific regulations which will be overtaken by rapid change </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Social media policy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Develop ways to enable use of social media. Prohibiting use is not a “social media” policy </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Get your hands dirty! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If your GC/attorneys aren’t using social media, how can they help you develop effective policies? </li></ul></ul>
  14. 15. @carolynelefant, @nxtgenenergylaw Where to find me online: [email_address] Available on Amazon