(Dow Jones) The issue of how to deal with social media isn't going away for regulators of the securities industry.

A year ago, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority issued guidance to brokerages on the use of sites like Facebook and Twitter but, just as use of those networks grows, the questions just keep coming about what financial firms can and can't do with them.

So another task force will convene in March and is likely to issue more guidance on the subject later in 2011, according to Joseph Price, Finra senior vice president of corporate financing and advertising regulation.

Brokerages continue to be uncertain about how to comply with industry rules while using social-networking sites in communicating with clients and the public. Many of the questions are coming from firms affiliated with insurance companies, according to Price, who spoke Tuesday at a conference for broker-dealer compliance professionals. Insurance agents often work in advisory practices where social networking with community members may be more critical to client development.

Technology and some industry practices are changing fast, Price says. Finra wasn't aware of any firms that allowed brokers to engage in business communications through social-networking sites when it issued its January 2010 guidance, he said. Since then, some firms have adopted pilot programs that allow the practice.

Most firms continue to prohibit communicating through the sites because of industry rules that require firms to retain those messages. They may have a LinkedIn page, for instance, but messaging to and from it is typically not permitted.

Finra is being urged to reconsider how it applies old record-keeping rules, designed for a simpler time, to new technology.

"People have said to me, 'You're not being creative enough. You're not appreciating the fundamental sea change going on in communication,'" Price says. Finra can't modify the rules on its own because record-keeping requirements were established by the Securities and Exchange Commission, he says, but adds: "We may need to rethink those old rules."

Chief compliance officers at the conference spoke alongside Price about struggling with the issue. The rules were "designed for a communication environment that doesn't resemble what's out there today at all," said Robert Mooney, managing director and chief compliance officer of Wells Fargo Advisors, a unit of Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC)

"The notion of scheduling an appointment and getting an answer a week or two later is absurd for people doing business today," Mooney said. Wells Fargo prohibits its advisers from communicating through social media for business, but allows the use of some "static" postings, such as LinkedIn profiles, which the firm must approve, he said.

Wells Fargo Advisors monitors, captures and retains more than 10 million emails per month. That number could increase by ten times if the firm allowed social-media communications, said Mooney.

CNL Securities Corp., a unit of CNL Financial Group Inc., prohibits its 100 advisers from using social-networking sites for business, according to Nathan Headrick, the firm's chief compliance officer and corporate counsel. The firm requires its advisers to sign written acknowledgements of the firm's social- networking and texting policies twice a year, he says. They must also disclose certain information about their online presence outside of the office, such as a personal Facebook page or family Website, he said. Strict penalties, including termination, apply for breaking the rules, said Headrick.

"This is an unusual environment where 140 characters or less can bring down a career, and ultimately a firm," he said.

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