SEC Still Way Behind The Times In Dealing With The Way People Communicate
from the broken-regulations dept
We're seeing something of a repeat of the episode a little more than six years later, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings wrote on his Facebook account the news that Netflix users were watching "nearly a billion hours per month." The SEC decided that this might be material information that Hastings had dangerously shared in a new-fangled manner and this might violate RegFD. Amusingly, Hastings told the world about this... via Facebook.
SEC staff informed us yesterday that they are recommending that the SEC bring a civil action against us for my July 1 billion hour public post, asserting we violated “Reg FD”. This rule is designed to ensure that individual investors have equal access to information as large institutional investors, by prohibiting selective disclosure of material information. The SEC staff believes that I gave you all “material” investor information in my post and that we needed to instead release the June viewing fact “publicly” with an 8-K filing or press release.Hastings points out that the whole thing is stupid. The Facebook postings are public and viewable by anyone with a Facebook account, and he already has 200,000 subscribers to his updates. Furthermore, he pointed out that the announcement itself had nothing to do with "material" information for investors, it was just cool news -- which had been blogged about a few weeks earlier anyway.
Hastings finds the whole thing so ridiculous (and it is) that he's promised to keep posting news to Facebook even as the SEC continues its "investigation." As he points out, the whole thing is more about SEC red tape than any reasonable regulation:
“Reg FD was about protecting me from telling Carl Icahn something special, the big investor, that not everyone else got,” Hastings said. “This was me talking to 200,000 Facebook followers; it is letting the small guy in on the information.”It would be nice if our various regulatory institutions didn't react to any new technology by automatically dumping it into the "must be evil / most be stifled" category.