ACCC and Facebook: SMEs to Receive Leeway

Last week, the Advertising Standards Board (ASB) ruled that Facebook pages would be considered as the advertising brand’s own marketing material. As such, any user-generated post has to comply with advertising standards or the company behind the page will be liable.

Since then, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has told large companies with Facebook pages that misleading or inappropriate comments must be removed within a 24 hour timeframe.

This has caused some concern among small online retail operations that often gain plenty of traction in social media, but might not have the resources to police their pages as frequently as this ruling requires.

Fortunately, ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court told SmartCompany that some allowances would be made for SMEs.

“It seems to me that if you’re a big corporate player like a bank, Coles, Woolies or the airlines, if their are using Facebook one presumes they have fairly sophisticated systems and they are going to become aware of anything misleading pretty promptly,” Court said.

“If you are a mum and dad company with a Facebook page and there is a false representation up there, and they genuinely have not looked at it for a week or so, the ACCC may not be impressed. But I can’t see that we would take action.”

Ivan Lim, Founder of bespoke pureplay menswear store Vinspi, says that this development only serves to reinforce the basic tenets of social media use, and that many businesses won’t need to worry about being affected.

“Ultimately, it has always been up to retailers or brands behind those Facebook pages to moderate the content that appears. Things posted on their page get associated with the brand, so it’s in their best interest to stay on top of the content and most businesses are really good at it already,” Lim says. “That’s the nature of social media; it’s not a one-way communications tool. It’s about engaging with your audience and being proactive with the resulting dialogue.”

Lim believes that there are some other techniques retailers should consider employing to ensure quality and authenticity of user-generated content on their Facebook pages.

“Stay on top of your social media no matter what platform,” he says. “I believe every brand should clearly communicate a set of House Rules for their page, so that every user is aware of the boundaries and that certain things, like discriminatory comments for example, will be removed.”

One thought on “ACCC and Facebook: SMEs to Receive Leeway

  1. Good job Campbell. I for one am glad that the ACCC are getting involved but think that it’s sad that it has had to come to this. This kind of action may just have saved the “client testimony” from suffering a cruel death due to the ridiculous number fake testimonies being written on pages.

    I still hope however I can say “Best coffee ever!” when visiting my fav coffee shop? 🙂


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