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Netflix CEO Hastings in trouble with SEC for announcing figures on Facebook

hastings netflix

Netflix's Reed Hastings has a habit of speaking too soon. This time, though, the SEC is getting involved, sending the CEO a Wells notice — an announcement that it’s likely to pursue some kind of action against the recipient, reports Business Insider. The notice stems from a July announcement that Netflix viewers had streamed a billion hours of programming in June for the first time ever — big news for the company, with its stock jumping six percent the same day. The SEC’s problem is that the announcement was made on Hastings’s Facebook account and not in a more formal venue like a press release. Regulation Fair Disclosure requires that all investors get market moving information at the same time, and the Facebook post could be seen as giving some investors (i.e., Hastings's Facebook friends) unfair access.

Hastings sees things a little differently, of course. The CEO argues in a statement that because he has 200,000 friends on Facebook that the announcement was in fact public. He also points to a June blog post saying that the company was closing in on a billion hours per month, and notes that the rise in stock price started before he revealed the billion-hour figure. It’s still possible that nothing will come of the SEC’s review, but the case is interesting for highlighting social media's evolving role in investor relations.

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