Liability for User Generated Content on Facebook

The Advertising Standards Board (ASB) has decided in a recent case involving Smirnoff Vodka that a Facebook page may be considered a ‘marketing communication tool’ when used by an advertiser.  As a consequence, companies that use social media to promote their products are responsible for ensuring that all content on these sites is in compliance with the Advertiser Code of Ethics, including content uploaded by other users.

The ASB ruled that advertisers using tools such as Facebook to interact with customers must take care to moderate third party contributions to their products’ social media pages, or risk being held in breach of the Code.

Many social media experts have decried the ASB’s ruling and the burden it places on advertisers to police an information stream that flows unpredictably 24/7. 

Speaking to The Age on Monday, KWM Partner John Swinson commented on the potential stifling of dialogue between business and consumer that tools like Facebook facilitate, saying, “This is going to send advertising back to the days when it was all one-way.” 

Mr Swinson spoke more about the implications of this decision on ABC’s AM radio program.  You can read the full transcript of the interview here

For further information, you can also access our alert here.