Moderate comments within 24 hours or get sued?
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has weighed into the row over corporate Facebook pages, telling the The Age it would expect large businesses to be able to act on comments within 24 hours.
Depending on your point of view, Australia either brought its advertising regulations into the Internet age last week, or took a giant leap backwards, when the Advertising Standards Bureau ruled that public comments on corporate Facebook pages – and, for that matter, other business-oriented social media pages – count as advertising.
The decision came after complaints about comments on a Facebook page maintained by Carlton United Breweries to promote its Victoria Bitter brand, and a Smirnoff vodka promotional page.
The ACCC in Australia have decided that “the Facebook site of an advertiser is a marketing communication tool over which the advertiser has a reasonable degree of control”, which on the surface of things, is pretty boring. However, something big this way comes.
With that notion, any user comments on a Facebook wall could well count as a breach of the code of ethics, which means that there could be penalties or legal action made against people for the things that are written in their FB pages. This could well make the leap from Facebook to any website that hosts comments.
Immediately, it'll mean that brands will have to get moderators for their social media operations. Job creation is good, but businesses being needlessly jumpy about everything you write at them is bad. We're potentially looking down the barrel of a very sanitised, boring comment wall on all sites.
ACCC commissioner Sarah Court said: "If you are a big corporate player with lots of resources that's putting a lot of effort into social media then it wouldn't have to be too long. Perhaps 24 hours or less." The idea is to stop people from providing "inaccurate information" about the brand's own products, or the products of competitors with false testimonials and the like. However, the knock-on from that will be comments so heavily moderated that you may as well shout at a newspaper.
Naturally, this is your cue to fill the comments of Bitterwallet up with the most appalling brain farts you can muster.