Social media vigilance urged
Sat, 11 Aug 2012 6:20p.m.
By Tony Field
Local companies are being warned they'll need to be increasingly vigilant about what their customers post on their social media pages.
It follows an Australian ruling that comments posted by people on sites like Facebook and Twitter are a form of advertising - and that means the companies are liable for anything that's offensive or untrue.
For a growing number of companies, social media networks like Facebook and Twitter are an important part of their business - a way to communicate with their customers about the good and the bad.
ASB social strategist Simone McCallum says businesses need to pay attention to what’s taking place on their social media pages.
“It is a two way street, so being prepared for that is important but if you don’t know that it's broken, you cant fix it.”
Telecom social media manager Richard Irvine says they can be a place to accept negative feedback.
“We will get customers that come because they have had an unpleasant experience with us, and we welcome that. We welcome honest feedback on what we do.”
But now, in two separate cases, Australia's advertising standards board has ruled that the comments posted by people on corporate social media are a form of advertising.
And internet lawyer Rick Shera says that means companies have to take responsibility for the content of their pages.
“You can't just put it up and leave it. You have to monitor it and you have to make sure that the material on it is compliant with advertising standards and indeed the general law,” he says.
The onus is on companies to make sure what their customers say is not offensive or inaccurate.
“It seems a strange thing to say that comments posted by someone other than the advertiser themselves are advertising, but that is the way it is going. And in a sense because the whole page is a promotional exercise,” says Mr Shera.
To totally safeguard themselves companies would have to check every comment before it's posted.
But social media managers 3 News spoke to prefer to give people the freedom to post their comments online.
“I literally get an email to my phone every time a comment is posted. And very occasionally we will take something off,” says Mr Irvine.
Ms McCallum agrees there are only a small number of problematic messages that get posted.
“Of the thousands of comments that we have had on our Facebook page, there'd be just a handful of comments that we have really needed to moderate.”
As for the original complaints in Australia, it's emerged they were made by two academics keen to test the limits of internet law.
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14/08/2012 5:05:31 p.m.
lol so if this applys in america too, where corparations are people, and vice versa then everything that is posted on the internet no matter what it is must be moderated or it is against the law? erm sounds a bit like the end of free speech to me
12/08/2012 12:48:04 p.m.
Ridiculous. Businesses are now to be forced to hire people to monitor comments their customers make? Word of mouth (now being,often,word of email etc.)is now the business's responsiblility? They can't control what people say, good or bad, about them but they're to be held responsible for it? I repeat, ridiculous
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