Is Your Physical Therapy Practice Taking Legal Risk On Social Media?

Is Your Physical Therapy Practice Taking Legal Risk On Social Media?

Is Your Physical Therapy Practice Taking Legal Risk On Social Media?

Something that many physical therapists have probably never given a second thought to is the potential legal risks that they could be exposing themselves to every day when using social media. It is so easy to inadvertently get into hot water with social media by sharing the wrong thing or posting something that breaches the terms of use of whatever platform you are using. With that in mind, let's take a look at the common legal hurdles that clinics often encounter and how to avoid them.

Using Someone Else's Work

This is something that probably should go without saying and yet it is one of the most common legal issues that physical therapy clinics find themselves in. In the most simple of terms, you cannot use somebody else's photographers, drawings, articles or anything else on your own social media accounts without their permission and you certainly cannot claim it as your own!

If you come across something that you think your patients would find interesting then the most appropriate thing to do is to write a few lines of introductory text explaining why you are sharing the content in question and then offer a link to the original source. Since you are linking to the content rather than copying it, there is no need to actually seek permission.

Understanding The Difference Between Contests and Giveaways

A common marketing ploy on Facebook and other social media sites is for clinic's to run some kind of contest – perhaps offering a free consultation as a prize. However, if you are going to do so then it is very important that you not only understand the difference between a contest and a giveaway, but also that you are aware of the rules surrounding running these on your social media accounts.

The first thing that you need to understand is that the law treats contests in a very different way than it does giveaways:

  • Contests – A contest can be considered a game of skill. The winner is picked out because they best fit the criteria that have been set out at the beginning of the contest. When running a contest, as long as you do not change those criteria after the contest gets under way you should not run into too much trouble with the law.

  • Giveaways – With a giveaway, the winner is picked out at random making it a game of chance. You can pick names out of a hat manually or use an online service like Rafflecopter or to choose your lucky winner. However, the problem with giveaways is that they are very similar to lotteries and that brings with it some serious legal issues. When you request 'payment' to enter, your giveaway becomes an illegal lottery. Payment does not necessarily mean money, it also covers things like asking people to like or share a post. As soon as you do that you have crossed the line into lottery territory.

In order to avoid legal problems, the best thing to do is just stick to running contests rather than offering giveaways. If you really want to do a giveaway then you need to protect yourself by stating that there is 'no purchase necessary' and offering an alternative way to enter – for example anyone who prefers not to like your post can enter by mailing a postcard to you. You can also state 'Void Where Prohibited' to cover yourself against local state laws regarding giveaways.

Check The Social Network's Contest/Giveaway Policy

If you are going to have a contest or giveaway on your social media pages then you need to think carefully about whether or not your chosen social media platform actually allows this type of activity. You will need to check the terms and conditions of the site before you proceed. For example, Facebook do not allow you to require shares or tagging in order to enter and you must clearly state that the contest is not endorsed by Facebook. Meanwhile, Twitter requires the inclusion of a rule that anyone entering with multiple accounts be excluded and Google+ does not allow video contests.

Understanding these important points about social media can help you and your physical therapy clinic to avoid legal issues. PatientSites can help you manage your social media presence safely and legally. Why not get in touch with us today?

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