As we all know, unsolicited spam email can be annoying and intrusive. In 2003, Congress enacted the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act to curb spam. As required by the Act, the FTC and FCC adopted rules that prohibit sending unwanted commercial messages without prior permission. Among other things, the CAN-SPAM Act makes it “unlawful for any person to initiate the transmission, to a protected computer, of a commercial electronic mail message, or a transaction or relationship message, that contains, or is accompanied by, header information that is materially false or materially misleading.”
On March 28, 2011, a U.S. District Court in California held for the first time that the CAN-SPAM Act’s restrictions on the transmission of unsolicited commercial e-mail extends beyond traditional e-mail to include communications to other electronic medium, including Facebook friends’ walls, news feeds, and home pages. As John Nicholson of Pillsbury’s Global Sourcing group describes in detail in a recent Client Alert found here, the ruling is the most expansive judicial interpretation so far regarding the types of messages that fall within the scope of the CAN-SPAM Act.
John’s Client Alert is definitely worth a read for companies using social media in marketing. As John points out, companies should verify that they (and any marketing services they engage) comply with CAN-SPAM’s requirements for commercial messages sent via social media platforms.