For Australian businesses, it’s important to know how to ensure your social media posts are legally compliant.
Social media platforms provide small as well as large businesses a unique way to interact with their existing and potential customers directly, as well as promote their products or services. If your business is using any social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, then it is your responsibility to ensure that the content you share on any of your pages are accurate, regardless of whether you put it there or someone else does.
Here is a list of do’s and don’ts that you must follow to ensure that all your social media posts are legally compliant.
Author: Farrah Motley, an Australian eCommerce lawyer.
Refrain From Making Any Misleading Claims on Social Media Platforms
You must be careful not to make any false or misleading claims while engaging in any marketing and/or; promotional activities on social media platforms. This includes advertisements and statements using any media, including television, print, radio, websites, and various social media channels like Twitter and Facebook.
No specific, additional, or different consumer laws or rules are applicable to social media platforms. The same consumer protection laws that prohibit any business from making false, deceptive, or misleading claims about their products and services apply to social media as well.
An example of a false, misleading or deceptive can be that you tweet that you are the first Australian company that is offering a 100% environmentally friendly product or service without performing any research to support your claim and it turns out that another company has offered the same product or service for many years.
Another example can be that you pay a certain celebrity to tweet that he or she has stayed at one of your resorts and loved the stay there, while in reality, the celebrity has never been to your resort. This tweet can also be considered a false, misleading or deceptive claim.
Forbid Others from Making Misleading Claims in the Comment Section
If you maintain a profile on social media, then you can be considered responsible for any post or public comment that others make on your social media pages. If they are false or likely to be misleading or deceiving consumers in any way, then you can be held accountable for that.
For instance, if a fan or follower of your social media profile posts some negative and untrue comments about one of your competitor’s products on your Facebook page. You are aware that the comments are incorrect but decide to let them be visible on your page, and then you may be held responsible for those comments although they were made by someone else.
Reduce Your Risk of Social Media Content That is not Legally Compliant
Making any statements or claims on Facebook or any other social media platforms that you would not make in any other type of advertising is not a very good idea. If you are not sure of what you can or can’t say, it is better to seek legal advice.
Monitoring all your social media pages regularly and removing any posts that may seem to be false, deceptive, or misleading when you become aware of them is a good practice.
It is better to establish clear rules that are applicable to the actions of all of your friends, fans, and followers when interacting on your social media pages. You must announce these rules prominently on all your social media pages and block any such user who breaches these rules.
Make Sure to Monitor All Your Social Media Pages
The amount of time required to monitor all your pages on social media depends on 2 key factors: your company size and the number of fans/followers your page has. You must always keep in mind that even when your business closes for the day, social media still keeps operating 24 hours a day for all seven days of the week. Your consumers can likely use social media outside business hours and on weekends as well.
According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), if your company has a large staff, you are expected to have sufficient resources as well as sophisticated systems to get notified about false, deceptive, misleading posts on your Facebook page immediately after they are posted, and take prompt action to remove them.
In case you have a small staff but a huge number of Facebook fans, then the ACCC would expect you to devote adequate resources to monitoring your Facebook page and removing any false, deceptive, or misleading posts immediately. This is because a majority of your fans/followers can be easily misled by an incorrect post.
Lastly, if you have a small staff and few followers, it is unlikely for you to have more than the bare necessary resources to dedicate to social media monitoring. Also, because you have a small number of Facebook fans, the chances of an incorrect post creating widespread public detriment are much less. Hence, the ACCC would not expect you to keep monitoring your Facebook page regularly.
Remove False, Deceptive, or Misleading Comments Instead of Responding to Them
Removing false, deceptive, or misleading comments is the best way to deal with them rather than responding to them. This is because your response may not be sufficient enough to override the false impression already made by the original misleading comments.
That is why it is the safer option to simply delete the comments.
Role of ACCC in Enforcing Compliance on Social Media
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has the right to ask any company to substantiate its claims on social media platforms. They can issue an infringement notice or even take court action if they can identify a breach of the law.
They usually pursue cases of false, deceptive, or misleading conducts if:
● Relying on the statement can cause widespread public detriment.
● The conduct is particularly blatant.
● The statement is made by a business that has already done that previously.
Posting content on social media is easy, but you must ensure that you post them responsibly. Ensuring that your social media posts are legally compliant is essential for successful digital marketing and an online business presence that is truthful, transparent and shows the best of what you have to offer.
How Can Prosper Law Help?
If you have a business that has a website or uses social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, talk to our eCommerce lawyer. We’ll be able to provide you with fixed-fee legal advice to ensure your social media posts are legally compliant.
Farrah Motley | Legal Principal
PROSPER LAW – Australia’s Online Law Firm
M: 0422 721 121
A: Suite No. 99, Level 54, 111 Eagle Street, Brisbane, Queensland Australia 4000