Many businesses now use social media as a marketing tool to generate new business and promote their brand, service, product or reputation.

You may have already taken steps to protect your brand or business name, perhaps by incorporating a limited company or registering a trademark or a design right, but you also need to be aware of what you can do to protect yourself on-line if your business uses social media.

Your social media account could be open to exploitation, perhaps by an unhappy customer, competitor or a disgruntled ex-employee. If this happens, it could potentially expose you to damaging or derogatory comments, giving away trade secrets or your business “know-how” or just by disclosing things that you would rather keep private.

This could cause you embarrassment or worse still, expose you to financial loss and damage. This is especially concerning for ecommerce businesses or those that have a particularly active or prominent social media profile.

The legal issues arising from the mis-use of a social media account can be very wide ranging and could include; defamation, copyright infringement or breach of confidence.

In the event that your social media account is exploited, then there are various steps you can take to limit the damage and also send out a strong message to others that you will not stand for this kind of behaviour.

A simple “cease and desist” letter which sets out the behaviour complained of, the remedy you are seeking (such as removing a derogatory and untrue post) and which provides the perpetrator with a short deadline in which to remedy the behaviour, can often be very effective in obtaining a quick resolution at a reasonable cost.

A warning shot may be sufficient. Or you may want to take matters further.

Ultimately, you may have a claim to recover any financial losses suffered as a direct result of the conduct complained of. This could include applying to Court for an urgent injunction to prevent the behaviour from taking place.

You may also need to consider your position internally, in relation to your employees’ use of social media. Having a social media policy in place may be a sensible idea. As an employer, you could find yourself held vicariously liable for the acts of your employees using social media and so you need to make sure that you have got the correct safeguards in place to minimise that risk.

If you have faced any issues regarding social media that you are concerned will have a detrimental effect on your business, our commercial litigation experts are able to advise and assist you.

In addition, if you would like to discuss managing employees’ use of social media, our employment lawyers can advise on drafting and implementing a social media policy.  Contact us for more information. .