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SEC gives companies OK to use social media

WASHINGTON — The Securities and Exchange Commission will allow public companies to make significant announcements on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites provided they alert investors which sites they intend to use.

The decision announced Tuesday allows companies to use social media in place of more formal websites.

The question arose after Netflix Inc. CEO Reed Hastings said on his Facebook page in July that subscribers together watched more than 1 billion hours of video for the first time during June, the agency said.

An SEC rule requires that all investors receive significant company information at the same time. By allowing businesses to use more informal channels to share news with investors, the SEC is acknowledging the shift in technology that has made social media indispensable for the largest and most powerful corporations.