For Netflix and the SEC, a Facebook Share Should Be Public Enough
Except, that is, for the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is considering taking action against Netflix for a Facebook post made by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.
The whole scenario is strange. The SEC’s main beef: Netflix didn’t disclose potentially market-moving information in a regulatory filing or a press release, which are the usual methods of pushing out information to the public all at once. Hastings instead used a status update, and the SEC says that’s just not good enough.
Sorry, SEC — I’m calling shenanigans on this one.
Chew on this: If the aim of the Regulation Fair Disclosure rule — the very rule the SEC claims Netflix is breaking — is to relay important information at scale, what better way to do it than on the world’s most widely used social network?
In this day and age, I’d argue sharing something on Facebook is one of most public acts one can make. It’s built into Facebook’s very mission statement, to “make the world a more open” place.
Public figures like Hastings can allow hundreds of thousands of people to subscribe to his Page — which he has done — pushing out information to them near instantaneously via status updates. Netflix can set up a brand Page, posting stats and significant milestones to the 3.6 million Facebook users that follow Netflix on the social network.
Even Facebook itself uses its platform to communicate milestones to the public, publishing statistics to the company’s many organizational Pages on the site. Similarly, sites like Twitter make major announcements via its own messaging service (though unlike both Facebook and Netflix, Twitter isn’t publicly traded).
Like it or not, we’ve arrived in a new era of mass communications. Facebook users flock to the platform to vote en masse. The state of Israel announced a military operation last month not by press release or on television, but through a full-scale social campaign using Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Even the pope himself has blessed Twitter with his presence.
While the messages may still be the same, the mediums are changing around us so fast it’s tough for anyone — especially D.C. regulators — to keep up.
Maybe that will change a few years from now. Perhaps at Facebook’s two billion user mark.