Last week, Australia’s Advertising Standards Board (ASB) had social media users let out a collective gasp of astonishment and horror after the regulator declared brands responsible for what their Facebook followers post on company walls. The ASB decided that posts constitute advertising regardless of their creator and as such they should abide by the laws governing the industry.
This is a gigantic blow for both advertisers and Facebook but the UK need not worry as our own industry watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), does not intend to follow the lead of its Australian counterpart, Marketing Week reports.
The ASA issued a prompt response to the Australian ruling, saying it would not intervene in matters related to user-posted content on Facebook unless one of several scenarios plays out. The regulator has reserved the right to act if a brand highlights a follower’s wall post to make it stand out as a testimonial or if it engages in active content management by removing negative posts, effectively transforming positive comments into marketing tools. The ASA will also take action if an advertiser solicits irresponsible or misleading comments. An example of the former would be an alcoholic drinks producer inviting consumers to post pictures of drinking binges.
It was, in fact, comments on alcohol brand pages that triggered the ASB ruling. The regulator acted after the receipt of complaints that the Facebook pages of Diageo’s Smirnoff and Foster’s VB were in violation of assorted industry codes of conduct and promoted underage drinking. And while the ASB declared the complaints against Smirnoff groundless, Foster’s was not that lucky and the ASB went on to make its controversial ruling.