The SEC has stated its position on social media, and I use the term "social media" loosely. They have also warned of hot stock scams perpetuated through those same channels.
A document request list sent by the SEC to some advisers asks for a broad range of data related to social media use, according to a compliance alert from ACA Compliance Group. Among other things, the SEC is seeking to identify how often advisers use social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, MySpace, Digg, Redditt, as well as any blogs used by, or subscribed to, by the adviser. They are also looking at communications made by, or received by an adviser on any social media website including among others, blog postings, messages, and/or tweets.
MySpace? I doubt unscrupulous frauds will find many worthy targets there.
To me, it says that the SEC has no idea where the important information is when it comes to social media.
Look at the BlackBerry PlayBook recall. 900 units isn't huge if you consider they moved 50,000 units on its first day. Then again, if it were an anointed Apple product, that would be a pathetic debut.
If the SEC is in the business of protecting the investor, it would want to have some kind of say in how useful, relevant and timely RIM's information is to shareholders. Reasonable accounting authorities might also want to understand the impact of bad PR on the company's overall financial health, instead of constantly wasting everyone's time discussing how to account for a lease on the books. Please!
Like when the WSJ published this story about the PlayBook's first day:
“The traffic’s not iPad crazy, but there is a buzz,” said a salesman. “We actually had 5 people in the morning when the store opened at 7.”
Early sales were also relatively strong at a Best Buy outlet in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston, where there were “only a couple” of tablets left as of midmorning, a salesman said. While he declined to say exactly how many the store started with, he said the majority had now been sold. There were people waiting to buy the tablet when the store opened, he said.
At a Staples store in downtown New York City, on Broadway, a salesman said all 10 PlayBooks it had in stock sold out within a couple of hours of opening at 7 a.m. People are still coming in to ask for it, and the store is having them order online, he said.
Shit, if I held a bunch of RIM (disclaimer: this author is long RIM) and this were a reasonable market in which I might feel safer knowing the SEC is totally protecting my interests, I might want a rule that calculates exactly what that bad PR is worth to the company I own. To a shareholder, this sort of news means my investment just took one hell of a hit. Ten PlayBooks per store? Sad.
But instead, the SEC wants to know what blogs investors are reading. I'm sure that's a productive use of their time and far more important than monitoring the digital pulse of investing as it pumps through the veins of social media.