A landmark ruling in Australia says that businesses advertising on Facebook are liable for any public comments, so they must vet their Facebook pages or face a lawsuit.
The Advertising Standards Board ruled that posts on Smirnoff’s Facebook page were advertising, whether they were made by the company or a random poster and should comply with laws, the Telegraph reported. If any posts make any false claims, use racist or sexist language, the posts could make companies vulnerable to a lawsuit unless they are quickly removed.
The ruling in Australia could have repercussion in other parts of the world as advertisers navigate new social media waters. Businesses may have to hire full-time employees to monitor comments and this constant policing may hurt some of the spontaneity of Facebook, experts said.
“There used to be no downside to advertising on Facebook,” said Chris Watson, a partner at law firm CMS Cameron McKenna, told the Telegraph. “Now the free lunch is over and reality has intervened. Companies have to take responsibility."
While Australia is thousands of miles away, it's more than likely the ruling will cause changes in how companies conduct their Facebook pages in this country. That's probably for the best, though. What company wants racist or sexist messages on their pages?
Published at 10:46 PM PDT on Aug 8, 2012