The new regulations have been established to protect the consumer and will govern any potentially misleading announcements on social networks such as Facebook or Twitter. The current ASA regulations are well known but only cover adverts in paid-for space and sales promotions. However, the new regulations, which are due to be enforced from March 1st this year, will cover social media.
ASA Chairman, Lord Chris Smith, has commented on the matter, explaining: This significant extension of the ASAs remit has the protection of children and consumers at its heart.
We have received over 4,500 complaints since 2008 about marketing communications on websites that we couldnt deal with, but from 1 March anyone who has a concern about a marketing communication online will be able to turn to the ASA.
Social media is indeed causing a stir in the legal community whether in relation to false advertising or defamatory updates.
Ben Leuty, Account Manager at PR Company, Punch Communications, commented: New laws and regulations some discussed, some implemented – as a result of social media, have grabbed a lot of headlines recently; the most high-profile of which being the case against Courtney Love and her Twitter rants about fashion designer, Dawn Simorangkir. The case against her is being called “groundbreaking” and could set future legal precedents for whether celebrities, or in fact anyone, can be found libel for putting false or slanderous statements on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.
Love is being sued by Simorangkir, who is claiming that a stream of insulting and false tweets during March 2009 destroyed her reputation and cost her millions in lost revenue.
Ben continued: Businesses and their representative social commentators wont be held responsible for comments posted by third-parties under the new regulations but, online PR is a quintessential element of any campaign these days and to avoid being prosecuted by the ASA, or persecuted by individuals, PR agencies and consultants will need to keep to strict, and pre-agreed, social guidelines.