Are you confused about the legalities of social media? Maybe somebody has told you that you are liable for activities which take place on social media and you’re being held back by the fear of “what if..”
Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) have put out some guidelines on using social media to advertise or promote your business. You can read the guidelines in it’s entirety on this link, and I would encourage you to do so to be completely clear. I thought I’d summarise them (in my own words) for you incase you don’t have time to digest it all right now.
According to the ACCC “businesses using social media channels .. have a responsibility to ensure content on their pages is accurate, irrespective of who put it there.” Here is a summary of the key points:
1. Never make misleading claims on social media
All marketing and promotional activities must be true and in no way misleading or deceptive. There is no laws or rules specific to social media but consumer protection laws apply to social media activities the same way they apply to marketing and sales through any other form of media.
2. Misleading claims in comments must not be allowed
Your social media profiles are your responsibility. You can be held accountable for any misleading or misrepresentation through comments made on your social media pages by others. You must moderate these comments and take responsibility for them, as a court may conclude by leaving anything misleading on your page you have accepted them.
3. Minimise risk
If you wouldn’t say it offline, don’t say it online. Establish your own rules and educate everybody.
4. Monitor everything
Social media does not sleep and the majority of activity takes place outside of normal business hours. You should have methods in place to monitor social media all of the time and be responsive.
5. Respond or remove
It may not be in your businesses best interest to delete too many comments as this can be seen as a negative reaction. It may be more appropriate to respond. However, if you are responding you must ensure you are explaining or overriding any false impression made by the comments.
6. ACCC can enforce and take legal action for breaches
If the ACCC receives reports of false or misleading conduct through social media, it is able to require companies to substantiate these claims and may take court action or issue an infringement if a breach of law is identified.
The ACCC is more likely to pursue cases of false, misleading or deceptive conduct if:
- theres potential for large scale public detriment
- activities are blatant
- repeat offenders
If a customer makes a purchase, and their decision was made based on false, misleading or deceptive statements they saw via your social media pages and/or profiles you should offer a refund.
As I said this is my interpretation of the ACCC guidelines but I highly recommend everyone familiarise yourself with them as it is vital you recognise the importance and take responsibility for your social media presence.