Adobe – A social media legal risks case study


Who doesn’t know the brand Adobe? Well okay maybe some villagers in the middle of nowhere have never needed to edit a photo or create a flash animation, but otherwise…

So for those who don’t know. Adobe was founded in 1982 and focuses upon multimedia software. For the relatively small amount of research I have been able to invest so far, it appears that Adobe has thrown itself into the muddy waters of social media with as much gusto as any other social mediafied (yes I just invented a word) company of the modern era.

They have a Facebook page, where they seem to be constantly responding to unhappy customers. They have a Twitter page. They even have a page devoted to their social media team as well as page covering public commenting policy on their blog. And yes, considering the last two links come from their blog, they have a blog.

Adobe’s Social Media Risk Factors

I could probably write a thesis on Adobe’s social media presence and therefore their legal, not to mention reputational, risks. I will however cover what I see to be their three greatest social media legal risks:

Risk Factor 1 (False statements and or misleading and deceptive conduct):

With Adobe’s great degree of public exposure via its various social media platforms it is very susceptible to false statements and or misleading and deceptive conduct. Though it is always nice to have customers make positive remarks about your products, once this information is on their social media sites Adobe must have to work to ensure that statements made are true and correct, not misleading. Adobe’s social media team must monitor their various social media platforms frequently to ensure that any such content posted by the public is quickly removed.

Risk Factor 2 (Defamation):

Reading through Facebook posts made by customers, that could best be described as one sided flame wars. I can only imagine that at some point someone, or many people, must have made derogatory remarks about organizations other than Adobe. Though it would only be detrimental to Adobe if unhappy customers make disparaging remarks about their products, it would be another thing altogether should Facebookers start posting derogatory remarks about other organizations on the Adobe Facebook site.

Risk Factor 3 (Breaches of the Privacy Act):

Having read through a lot of public posts on Adobe’s Facebook page I can’t help but imagine that Adobe’s staff members, responding in particular to complaints, must have to be very cautious that they do not disclose personal information about the person they are responding to. It actually concerned me that, in many instances of customer complaints, that Adobe was asking unhappy customers for personal details. To the extent of my reading, no personal details were actual visible. I can only imagine that, being aware of privacy concerns, Adobe must go through and delete personal details from posts.

Summing Up

Adobe, like so many other organisations with both a large public profile and a great degree of sensitivity to the opinions of their customers, must not only have a comprehensive social media policy but must also constantly monitor its various social media sites. I personally am given to wonder whether organisation’s investments in social media may now, or at some time in the future show a marked decrease in ROI. In particular the cost of monitoring social media sites to ensure that nothing libellous, defamatory or otherwise inappropriate may eventually equate to such a blow out in costs that some organisations may choose to limit their social media profiles.

Your responses are valued

Please feel free to add any input in regards to social media legal risks that Adobe must manage that I have not covered here.

And Finally 🙂 (Warning contains some offensive language)


9 thoughts on “Adobe – A social media legal risks case study

  1. Conor Farne Sang

    Nothing better than the classic Downfall scene to make a point.

    Again, it’s that risk of Social Media toxicity. Once the public gets up in arms about something, they swarm to the nearest social media site to vent their frustrations, and things can quickly go out of control. Alas, it is something I’ve noted as being a huge influence on companies hesitance at utilising a public forum. A bad reputation is something not easily forgotten.

  2. Adam Farne Sang

    Aden, you raise a plethora of valid points regarding what Adobe needs to do to maintain a handle on these Social Risks, and I think that’s excellent. Very strong valid points!
    Not intending to detract from your post at all but I wonder how much of an impact these risks will have on Adobe in comparison to other companies. Is Adobe really that consumer oriented?

    What I mean is that because Adobe’s products are usually not in public limelight compared to fast food chains and entertainment brands which are constantly advertised and have heavy reliance on social interaction, the resulting backlash of issues may be on a smaller scale. Then again I may be wrong and Adobe has been managing this well so far.

    1. Conor Farne Sang

      Maybe it’s because of the kind of customer-base Adobe revolves around? Their software is quite business-centric, and as such the opinion and feedback from business and industry professional holds more weight than your regular joe (which would be more common from your example fast-food chains). Adobe’s target audience is more defined, and that therefore carries a differing degree of associated risk.

    2. adenjones Post author

      My take on Adobe is that, being the industry leader (I would even say the industry standard) they are vulnerable to the opinions of their customers. If they were a part of a pack of companies all vying for the same market share then I would think that the failings of their competitors would lessen the impact of their failings.
      As Adobe stands alone, as it were, they are both unshielded and an easy target. However this does lead me to think “so what”. So what if people get up in arms about Adobe’s failings, it is not as if there is a serious alternative. Maybe Adobe is only truly vulnerable to the risks of their Social Media platforms if a new and alluring competitor enters the market place.
      However, though Adobe may not be as susceptible to public opinion due to the lack of any serious alternatives, I do think that their intensive engagement in social media does expose them to many Legal Risks.
      Thanks for the response Adam and Connor, you both have really got me thinking 🙂

  3. jcoglan2013

    Wow, very interesting, the power of the customers views must be addressed, otherwise they will lose their customers completely, and that can me more expensive than a lawsuit. Great work

  4. Gabriel

    Great post! It’s interesting to see the trade-off between successful social media marketing and the actual cost of looking after all of the company’s social media sites. Being a tech company, and having more tech-savvy clients, they sure need to take into account their social media regulations and responsibilities.

    1. adenjones Post author

      You make a good point, demographics are a key issue when talking about technology companies. I personally wonder if there may come a time when large organisations are able to clearly measure the actual benefits of their social media marketing strategy and, if they find that they are not as great as hoped, scale back their social media involvement.

  5. tahaniqut

    Great post. Regarding preventing misleading information, a company needs to continuously monitor social media and promptly reply using their authenticated account to avoid any issues.

  6. chrischen346

    Hey, Aden.
    I really agree with your article, it’s true that company has risk while they are using social media. If there is a problem of their products, the customers’ opinion or complain will be enlarged. Also, the response of this company is really important for customers, because it will influence the image of this company. Anyway, it’s enjoyable to read your article. Regards.

    And here is my blog, please feel free to leave comment.


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