Social Media Matters: Facebook no longer a free ride for companies

Social Media MattersSocial Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, Aug. 10, 2012
Metro section

Facebook no longer a free ride for companies

A landmark ruling by Australia’s governing body on advertising standards means that companies with a corporate presence on Facebook are now liable for comments users write about their brand.

An Aug. 6 article by Katherine Rushton in the British newspaper The Telegraph reported that Australia’s “Advertising Standards Board ruled that posts on Smirnoff ‘s Facebook page are effectively advertising, regardless of whether they were made by the company or a member of the public, and should therefore comply with advertising laws.” Effectively, this means that if users posted false claims about the brand, the company could by liable unless they take action against the comments by deleting them.

With the need for constant vetting of comments brings extra costs because company employees would have to be constantly scanning and policing comments left by users. “‘Any posts that make false claims about a product, or include racist or sexist language, will leave companies vulnerable to being sued unless they are removed,” according to the article.

This adds an extra layer of complexity and cost for companies promoting themselves with Facebook pages. While I can’t imagine any companies that have millions of followers will leave Facebook any time soon, Australia’s ruling will likely have repercussions around the world as other countries crack down on comments made on corporate Facebook pages.

For example, what if a user on Coca-Cola’s Facebook page writes about how the beverage cured some horrible disease? Normally, this wouldn’t be a huge deal. It’s just one person’s experience – and likely just a coincidental one.

But, in Australia, such a comment could get the corporate giant in a big legal mess for allowing false medical claims to remain on its Facebook page. Either that – or prove the validity of the comment. So, Coca-Cola should just delete it, right? Yup! They should. The problem here is that Coca-Cola has 47 million likes on their official Facebook page and nearly 700,000 tagged mentions. Of those 700,000 mentions and God knows how many Facebook comments, you can just imagine the hornets’ nest this Australian ruling has opened up.

This will be interesting, especially when the lawsuit-happy U.S. gets hold of this and the ‘freedom of speech’ advocates start pushing back.

Social media gets silly

Gabby DouglasThere are many silly online debates at any given moment, but the pointless major kerfuffle over U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas’s pulled-back hairstyle at the 2012 London Games has gotten positively surreal. “‘I don’t know where this is coming from,” she was quoted as saying in the Associated Press. “What’s wrong with my hair? I’m like, ‘I just made history and people are focused on my hair?’ It can be bald or short, it doesn’t matter about (my) hair.”

This week’s featured YouTube channels

Every week, I feature three YouTube chan­nels for you to check out. Have a favourite channel? Let me know about it and I may feature it here! Statistics are current to Aug. 7.

1) CTVOlympics (15,853 subscribers): This is the “official YouTube channel of Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium, bringing you a taste of our London 2012 Olympic Games coverage,” according to the channel’s description. As of Aug. 7, the channel hosts nearly 400 videos (with more than eight million views) offering extensive coverage and highlights of Olympic events.

Playlists include Canadian medals, must-see moments, 2012 Paralympic Games, news and highlights, as well as the opening ceremonies. (Most popular video: Badminton: Match Fixing Scandal – 104,697 views.) (The channel has disabled the embedding of videos. To see the video, please click on the link.)

2) Official Olympic Channel by the IOC (280,547 subscribers): This is the official channel of the Olympic Games hosted by the International Olympics Committee. The channel is positively chock-full of content divided up into 76 playlists and more than 1,500 videos.

Playlists include all sports from the London 2012 Games, as well as selected videos from many previous Olympics, including 1988 in Calgary, 1976 in Montreal, 2010 in Vancouver, and the two previous Olympics held in London in 1908 and 1948. (Most popular video: Usain Bolt World Record – Mens 100m Final – Beijing 2008 Olympic Games – 887,060 views.)

3) MD Anderson Cancer Center (815 subscribers): This is the official YouTube channel of the renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center located at the University of Texas in Houston. Although there aren’t as many subscribers as one would think, the channel’s video roster of more than 600 videos has nearly 1.6 million views. This is one content-rich YouTube channel that does it right!

Playlists include cancer prevention, uterine cancer, side effects, technology, pancreatic cancer, leukemia, melanoma, prostate cancer, breast cancer, brain tumors, ovarian cancer, rare cancers, colon cancer, lung cancer, lymphoma and cancer survivors, to name only a few. (Most popular video: MD Anderson Lung Cancer Survivors – 266,438 views.) (The channel has disabled the embedding of videos. To see the video, please click on the link.)

One Response to Social Media Matters: Facebook no longer a free ride for companies

  1. Fascinating stuff about the evolution of social medias, FB in this case, and the law trying not to be left in the dust while Big Corp is doing it’s best to milk whatever cow they can.