SEC Risk Alert Discusses When Social Media Interactions May Constitute Prohibited Hedge Fund Client Testimonials

On January 4, 2012, the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released a National Examination Risk Alert on Investment Adviser Use of Social Media (Risk Alert).  The Risk Alert addresses the use by registered investment advisory firms of social media that integrate technology, social interaction and content creation – from blogs, wikis and photo sharing sites, to LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook and other similar websites.  The Risk Alert serves as a reminder that use by hedge fund managers and other investment advisers of social media must comply with, among other things, the antifraud, compliance and recordkeeping provisions of the federal securities laws, including, the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (Advisers Act).  The Risk Alert sets forth factors that the SEC staff believes, based on observations from recent OCIE exams, an investment adviser may wish to consider in complying with such obligations.  In a guest article, Kenneth J. Berman and Marcia L. MacHarg, both Partners at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, and Gregory T. Larkin and Jaime D. Schechter, both Associates at Debevoise, analyze the Risk Alert and its implications for private fund managers.  See also “Does Social Media Have a Place in the Hedge Fund Industry?,” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 5, No. 6 (Feb. 9, 2012).

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