Watchdog Takes Action Against Misleading Twitter Claims

Twitter and Facebook will now be monitored by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) who will police any claims businesses make on social networks and websites.

From today the ASA rules will cover any statements on websites that can be deemed as marketing regardless of whether they are in an advertisement or not.  Until now they have only been able to take action against paid-for online ads. But after receiving more than 3,500 complaints last year they have decided to increase their authority.

What does this mean for your company?

This means that the UK advertising code now extends to non paid-for statements and that they must not mislead, harm or offend.

So for your social networking profiles and accounts you need to ensure that any images you show and all wall posts or tweets that you make are compliant with the UK advertising code.

Punishment for breaking the rules could include the removal of paid-for links from sites hosting banned content. There may also be a name and shame policy to expose companies making unsubstantiated claims.

“Difficult to enforce”

 

The new rules will be difficult to enforce and with the prospect of the increased workload, the ASA has increased their number of staff in relevant departments by 10%. Due to the real-time social media interactions happening thousands of times a day it will be hard to keep on top of claims and within the right time frame. If a company tweets about an offer one week and has stopped the offer the next then the tweet could still be viewable to the public. It is unclear whether the ASA will be expecting companies to go through their tweet archive and delete older tweets.

Social networks are opening up many exciting advertising opportunities and the user base is growing rapidly.  It is clearly very important that these sites are monitored to help protect consumers but with the sheer workload involved the ASA may be fighting against the current for some time to come.

Written by James Hay, Social Media Coordinator at Fasthosts Internet Ltd.

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