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An article relating to this blog post on Finextra:

Finra issues social networking guidance

US regulatory body Finra has issued guidance to securities firms and brokers on the use of social networking Web sites such as facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to communicate with the public.

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Finra's social media mash up

Lots of chatter in social media circles yesterday about this report on the New Comm Biz blog cocerning a financial services employee who was allegedly forced to remove his LinkedIn profile in response to Finra's recent Web 2.0 guidance note.

"I received a disturbing email from a friend of mine," the post begins. "I have changed the message and obscured any personal or employer reference for obvious reasons."

Here's what our anonymous source had to say: "Due to the recent Finra ruling I will have to take down my LinkedIn profile. The finance industry is so far behind the curve on social media communications it may be a while before my profile is back. In the meantime, feel free to contact me via e-mail or on Facebook (while I can still use it!)."

Whether you believe the report or not, this is clearly crazy. Not only does the Finra note specifically permit the use of LinkedIn, the self-regulatory organisation has a rather comprehensive LinkedIn profile of its own, replete with links to Finra employee profiles.

For a rather more nuanced critique of Finra's policy we must turn to the law and disorder blog of Ars Technica. This points out that the regulatory note requires firms to retain records of all "business-related communications on social networks, whether those communications are official or from associated persons." As for how such record-keeping is to be implemented, "Finra does not endorse any particular technology to keep such records, nor are we certain that adequate technology currently exists."

"So," says Ars Technica "Finra has asked Wall St. to monitor its employees' social media profile pages, blogs, and communications, using tools that don't yet exist and taking an "it depends on the facts and circumstances" stance in sorting out offending posts/tweets/comments from non-offending ones"

Small wonder that Wall Street firms are in a bit of a muddle about how to interpret the ruling. Trying to tame technology is a mug's game. Just ask the SEC, (ref: HFT/dark pools morass). Finra should have left well alone.


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Paul Penrose

Paul Penrose

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06 Oct 2006



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