Disclose to ASX first, not social media
Evie Bruce
Fri, 21 Jun 2013 3:00pm

Last month ASX released its new guidance confirming that material announcements, by Australian companies need to be made first to ASX, and can't be given to media before that.  Now that's slightly different to the position in the US where it's been the case for many years that companies can make announcements through various different platforms including their own website and the SEC in fact has recently confirmed that US companies can use Facebook and Twitter to make material announcements on.   And that was following the Net Flicks situation where the company's CEO in fact used his personal website to release some important information about Net Flicks having reached one billion hours of content for a particular month.  The SEC looked into that and they didn't take enforcement action against the CEO in that case, in fact they confirmed that it is appropriate for US companies to be able to make disclosure through those social media platforms, provided they first tell investors that that's what they're planning to do.

Do you think we could see this opening out of disclosure avenues in the future in Australia?

Look I think given ASX has only just come out last month confirming that announcements must be made through ASX so we are effectively a single platform announcement jurisdiction, I would be surprised if that happened in the short term, but perhaps in the future.

And despite the fact that disclosure obviously needs to be made to the ASX first, can companies do you think ignore social media when it comes to complying with their continuous disclosure obligations?

Look I think it's clear that companies can't ignore social media, but it is important to note that ASIC hasn't created a general obligation for companies to monitor social media.  What they have said is if there's something material that is being considered, or if a company is not disclosing information because it considers it doesn't have an obligation to do that because the information's confidential, then it needs to monitor obvious social media to make sure that is the case and that in fact the confidentiality hasn't been lost.  And I think that you would find as a practical matter a number of companies do that already, so through simple mechanisms like for example Google alerts or Twitter alerts a number of companies use that already, and where companies are considering something material they might think about using an external provider to assist them with their social media monitoring.

Evie Bruce thank you so much for joining us.

Thank you.