The public offering process is divided into three periods: (1) the quiet or pre-filing period, (2) the waiting or pre-effective period, and (3) the post-effective period. Communications made by the company during any of these three periods may, depending on the mode and content, result in violations of Section 5 of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”). Communication related violations of Section 5 are often referred to as “gun jumping.” All forms of communication could create “gun jumping” issues (e.g., press releases, interviews, and use of social media). “Gun jumping” refers to written or oral offers of securities made before the filing of the registration statement and written offers made after the filing of the registration statement other than by means of a prospectus that meet the requirements of Section 10 of the Securities Act, a free writing prospectus or a communication falling within one of the several safe harbors from the gun-jumping provisions.
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On April 21, 2014, the SEC updated its Division of Corporation Finance Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations (C&DI) to provide guidance as to the use of Twitter and other social media communications in conjunction with a public offering or business combination transaction.
Previously, on April 2, 2013, in response to a Facebook post made by Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, the Securities Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued a report confirming that companies can use social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, to make company announcements in compliance with Regulation Fair Disclosure (Regulation FD) as long as investors are alerted as to which social media outlet is being used by the company.
Regulation FD requires that companies take steps to ensure that material information is disclosed to the general public in a fair and fully accessible manner such that the public as a whole has simultaneous access to the information. Regulation FD ended the era of invitation-only conference calls between company management