Did you know you can be liable for misleading or false comments posted by your fans or followers or customers on your business's Facebook page?
Facebook, Twitter and YouTube give all businesses a new, direct way to interact with customers, to attract new customers, and to promote their products and services. However, businesses using social media channels have a responsibility to ensure content in these channels is accurate, irrespective of who put it there.
Consumer protection laws prohibit businesses from making false, misleading or deceptive claims about their products or services and these laws also apply to social media. Just like any claim a business makes as part of its marketing and promotional activities - including print, radio, television and websites- the claims made on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter or YouTube must not be false, misleading or deceptive.
A business can be held responsible for any public comments made by customers, fans, followers or bloggers on its social media pages which are false or are likely to mislead or deceive consumers. This was confirmed by the Federal Court in 2011 during the ACCC's court action against an allergy treatment company. Clients of the company posted testimonials on the company's Facebook "wall" and the court concluded that the company became the publisher and accepted responsibility for the posts and testimonials on its social media pages when it knew about them and decided not to remove them.
For further Guidance for business click here.
The ACCC can require businesses to substantiate any claims on their social media pages, and can take court action where it identifies a breach of the law (or issue an infringement notice in certain circumstances).
For further guidance when using social media also see: "Using social media to promote your business" on www.accc.gov.au