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Social Media

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The internet, and especially social media, are increasingly becoming vital communication and marketing tools for not-for-profit community organisations. They can be a great way for your organisation to promote its cause and services, and to communicate with your community cheaply and quickly.

However, there are risks to reputation and legal risks involved with social media use - especially because of the speed with which information travels on the internet, its global reach, and the lack of control that your organisation has once something goes online.

What is social media?

‘Social media' usually means a website, mobile application or technology that allows users to share and communicate information (‘content') online - either privately or publicly. Examples of social media include:

  • social networking sites (such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn)
  • blogs
  • information sources (such as wikis)
  • video-sharing sites (such as You Tube)
  • photo-sharing sites (such as Flickr and Instagram), and 
  • other sites with user generated content elements (such as news sites which invite customers to post reviews).

There are a range of legal issues your organisation should know about in using different types of social media.

What are the legal issues?

Not-for-profit Law has developed some fact sheets that address three particular areas of concern for community organisations regarding social media. The fact sheets assume some knowledge of intellectual property laws (copyright, trademarks). If you would like to read more about these laws, we recommend reading Not-for-profit Law's Intellectual Property Guide before reading these fact sheets. 


Does your organisation want to (or does it already) use Facebook? If so, read the fact sheet below on Facebook and legal issues for community organisations. It covers:

  • things to think about when you sign up
  • copyright
  • privacy, and 
  • practical tips for using Facebook in a safe and legal way.


Does your organisation want to use, or already uses Twitter? If so, read the fact sheet below on legal issues for community organisations using Twitter. It covers:

  • twitter terms of use
  • risks of using twitter, and
  • practical tips for using Twitter in a safe and legal way.

Social media can impact your organisation in many ways. The fact sheet below outlines some key issues for community organisations, and strategies for reducing risk.  This fact sheet includes information about:

  • social media and reputation
  • employee or volunteer use of personal social media
  • writing a social media policy
  • delegating authority for use of your organisation's own social media accounts, and
  • the impact social media can have on a safe workplace.

Extra Resources

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