As we have previously highlighted, every business should be particularly careful about comments and other posts put on their Facebook page or otherwise used on social media sources which might emanate from the business or from employees on behalf of the business.

This has been reinforced recently when the Advertising Standards Board handed down a decision which found that Facebook pages and other official social media sites which referred to or promoted the business or products or services provided by the business are advertising. That decision meant that social media channels are now buried within the jurisdiction of the Advertising Standards Boards and are subject to advertising standards and codes.

The ASB’s decision dealt with a promotion by Smirnoff on its Facebook page after a complaint had been lodged alleging that the content breached various advertising codes, rules and regulations.

As it turned out, Smirnoff was found not to have breached any applicable rules and regulations, but the important outcome was that Facebook pages are now regarded as advertisements. Since they are advertisements, they need to comply with various codes and community standards, the same as if they were on T.V. or radio or in a newspaper, and the need for such compliance also extends to any posts made on the site by fans or other users of the Facebook page.