Startling news from down under for social media pros; brands will be held liable for fan comments posted to their Facebook walls.
The ruling, made by Australia’s Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB), stems from complaints made regarding posts to the Australian version of the Foster’s and Diageo Facebook pages. Essentially, what this means is that, in Australia, user comments on managed profiles like Facebook walls will be held to the same standard as any other advertisement.
The ASB argues that this is an extension of rules currently in place and should not affect actively-managed pages. However, it does pose a greater threat pages that either don’t have constant moderation or believe that user comments are an extension of free speech and should not be interfered with.
By in large, this should not affect US brands but it does pose an interesting question regarding the future of community management. The FTC, the closest thing we have in the USA to the Australian ASB, has usually stayed out of social media management questions. That have set standards for blogger-brand relationships in general but they defer to the specific terms of agreement for the sites like Facebook.
The question is can brands in the USA continue to treat users’ comments as an extension of free speech and should they do more to manage comments on their Facebook walls?