Asked 6 months ago - New York, NYFlag
My small bushiness is looking to expand into social media via Facebook & YouTube. My concern deals with Facebook posting. If I provide different posts about tips on brushing your teeth, overall info on dental health and procedures can I get into trouble doing this? I would be providing about a paragraph to two paragraphs of information. per post. The majority of posts would be a short summary or further explained title of a blog post on my site. That way if a visitor views my post and they want to read more it links back to my site with clearly says this is for general information purposes only and is not considered medical advice. Should I try to include those disclaimers in the welcome page on Facebook and/ or the about me section on my sites Facebook landing page.
Congratulations for wanting to use social medial to promote your business. This is a great idea. There is certainly a way to structure your participation in social media without running into trouble. However, it is dangerous for you to post dental hints on Facebook or You Tube, rather than on your own web-site. If you use your own web-site for this purpose, you can include terms and conditions that contain various disclaimers. If you use Facebook and You Tube, however, you are stuck with the terms and conditions set forth by the owners of these sites, which primarily are designed to protect the owners of these sights, rather than you as a contributor. Indeed, when you post materials on Facebook and YouTube, you represent that the information you post is original and does not violate any laws---and you agree to pay damages and attorneys fees if these representations are false.
Thus, you probably do not want to include your dental tips directly on Facebook and, probably, You Tube. But you still can effectively use Facebook and you Tube to promote your own web-site. Your Facebook business page can provide links to your web-site, where you can safely post dental tips and videos that contain dental tips. Posting videos on You Tube containing dental advice requires special care, but this is no different than creating a television broadcast---you are publishing a broadcast for the world to see, and as long as you include suitable disclaimers and qualifications you probably can achieve your objectives.
Of course, the laws of every state are different---there may be some states where your proposal could constitute the unauthorized practice of dentistry. For this and many other reasons, you need to team up with intellectual property/social media counsel to develop effective strategies for protecting yourself. This is not a DIY job---you need to work with experienced counsel if you want to pursue this project. But the investment that you make in laying the foundation for this project will pay off big time---in an era where professionals are competing against each other for clients, effective use of social medial makes a big difference.
Social Media can be both a goldmine and a landmine. I agree that your question really requires the "face to face" analysis with you of an attorney who practices in NY. This not intended as legal advice in any way. But, as possible additional sources of information to help you understand some potential issues, there are some threshold questions and considerations. First, are you or is the information you provide being provided by a licensed and qualified dental professional (further analysis needed there). If so, I would discuss with my attorney disclosing the source of the recommendation - maybe it is public information from a published report, the American Dental Association, etc. Transparency matters to the end user. Second, I always suggest that a person read the terms and conditions very carefully on the sites on which they post to make sure that the sites themselves (laws aside) do not prohibit the activity. Third, I believe in disclaimers placed prominently so that the end user knows to check with a qualified professional before following any suggestions. Every body (and mouth) is different and there may be special concerns that cannot be addressed in a general post. Once you know the rules of the sites on which you want to post and before posting, consulting with a qualified attorney is the best course absolutely. The attorney can help you to analyze the risks of what you want to do, whether or not you need a disclaimer and what the disclaimer should say and perhaps a host of other issues that may arise when you can sit down and share the complete factual scenario. That said, I commend you for the thoughtful consideration you are giving this and hipe that some of the preliminary research you might want to do will help you to have a more productive (and possibly more cost efficient - since you will hopefully have a better understanding of certain issues that you will be able to share ) meeting with counsel. Good luck!!
An Internet attorney can help you to minimize liability both in terms of advising you as to your social media posts and disclaimers, including where to place them. As far as where specifically to place them, this is not a forum in which you can expect to receive a competent response, however I or any number of other qualified attorneys would be happy to assist you offline.
Here's what you need:
An internet savvy business and intellectual property attorney who is familiar with the following specific legal areas:
- Social media services agreements
- truth in advertising laws
- copyright & trademark laws
- knowledgeable about disclaimer requirements for, for example, dietary supplements
Such an attorney can evaluate the totality of your marketing and advertising campaigns, including those on social media platforms, and advise you on the legality of the "net impression" of your ads.
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