Keep your tweets sweet

10-September-2013 Commercial Disputes By Mark Streeter

Business owners should ensure they are aware of the risks associated with using social media and engaging with consumers or potential clients in this way before they start tweeting and posting online.

In the eyes of the law, social media is treated no differently to any other communications channel and without strict protocols in place, it can be easy for businesses to breach misleading and deceptive conduct laws.

The Advertising Standards Board has deemed official Facebook pages and other official social media accounts to be advertising. This means such pages need to comply with certain codes and community standards, the same as if they were on TV, radio or other traditional advertising medium. This includes comments posted on those sites by the public.

The courts have found that consumers tend to trust information that they find on a business’s official Facebook or Twitter account.

So, it’s important business owners take steps to ensure they:

  1. have the same guidelines and review processes in place for social media as they do for more traditional advertising.
  2. Draft a social media policy and train staff in the use of these platforms in their business.
  3. have efficient (fast) processes in place that check all potentially misleading or defamatory statements before they are posted.
  4. Employ someone in the business to monitor and moderate the various social media platforms they are engaged in. This is to ensure any potentially offensive third party comments that could breach legal obligations are deleted.

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