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Why Who You Are Might Change Who is Responsible for Your Facebook Post

Why Who You Are Might Change Who is Responsible for Your Facebook Post

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Published by iGo2 Group
Our post ASB’s Facebook ruling points to greater role of governance evoked comments from Mark Parker which led us to dig a little deeper into the issue of “brand responsibility” for comments on Facebook and other social networks. As an element of social governance it is only one piece of a much larger jigsaw puzzle. But that one piece can have severe consequences if the operational risk management is not in place, as Allergy Pathway found out.

It turns out to be a rather grey area, and as Mark suggested we might need some clearer guidelines and preferably illustrated by examples in order to minimize the risk of brands violating the rulings of the High Court and the Australian Consumer & Competition Commission.
Our post ASB’s Facebook ruling points to greater role of governance evoked comments from Mark Parker which led us to dig a little deeper into the issue of “brand responsibility” for comments on Facebook and other social networks. As an element of social governance it is only one piece of a much larger jigsaw puzzle. But that one piece can have severe consequences if the operational risk management is not in place, as Allergy Pathway found out.

It turns out to be a rather grey area, and as Mark suggested we might need some clearer guidelines and preferably illustrated by examples in order to minimize the risk of brands violating the rulings of the High Court and the Australian Consumer & Competition Commission.

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Published by: iGo2 Group on Aug 30, 2012
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Why who you are might change who isresponsible for your Facebook post
O
ter role of governanceevoked comments
fromMark Parkerwhich led us to dig a little
deeper into the issue of “brand responsibility” for
comments on Facebook and other social networks.
As an element of social governance it is only onepiece of a much larger jigsaw puzzle. But that onepiece can have severe consequences if the opera-tional risk management is not in place, as AllergyPathway found out.It turns out to be a rather grey area, and as Marksuggested we might need some clearer guidelinesand preferably illustrated by examples in order
to minimize the risk of brands violating the rulings
of the High Court and the Australian Consumer &Competition Commission.
The particular High Court ruling, as kindly pointed
out bySven Brodmerkelisthis onemade by the Australian Federal Court in 2011:In August 2009 Allergy Pathway and Mr Keirgave undertakings to the court following suc-
cessful Australian Competition and Consumer
Commission action for false, misleading anddeceptive conduct. Justice Finkelstein has found that Allergy Pa-thway and Mr Keir made prohibited repre-sentations about Allergy Pathway’s purpor-ted allergy treatment on its website and onTwitter, Facebook and YouTube in breach of those undertakings.
Those representations included testimonials
writ-
ten and posted by clients
on Allergy Pathway’s
Facebook “wall” and testimonials written by clients
and posted by Allergy Pathway on its website andFacebook and Twitter pages.In his judgment Justice Finkelstein held that:“while it cannot be said that Allergy Pathwaywas responsible for the initial publication of testimonials (the original publisher was the
third party who posted the testimonials on Al-
lergy Pathway’s Twitter and Facebook pages)it is appropriate to conclude that Allergy Pa-
thway accepted responsibility for the publica-tions when it knew of them and decided not to
remove them. Hence it became the publisherof the testimonials.”In responding to the judgment, ACCC chairmanGraeme Samuel said:“Many corporations now use Facebook “Fan”pages and Twitter accounts to promote their
businesses. This outcome conrms that any
business that decides to leave public testimo-
nials or other comments on their Facebook and
Twitter pages will be held responsible if theyare false, misleading or deceptive.”
Which means?
Well, it means this - any business that
decides to
leave public testimonials or other comments
on
their Facebook and Twitter pages will be
held res-
ponsible
if they are
false, misleading or deceptive
.
And what does that mean?
30/08/2012 10:37
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 Page 1
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Why who you are might change who is responsible for your Facebook post
Well, we’re not sure!
That’s why Mark Parker suggested that we reallyneed some use cases and guidance on those withrespect to the ruling.Let’s try some examples.Example 1
Take this commentfrom the Kogan Facebook page.
In order not to be warned or ned by the ACCC
Kogan have to weigh up the following:
Is this misleading about Soniq, or is it fact?
Is it factual about the refund and potentiallyfalse about the claim that “Soniq are worsethan those cheap TEACs”?
If Peter Sibilant turns out to be a Kogan em-ployee, contractor or associate is the com-ment more or less potentially misleadingor deceitful?
If Peter Sibilant turns out to be or have beena JB HiFi or Harvey Norman salespersonwho actually sold Soniq is this statementmore or less potentially misleading or de-ceitful?That’s a tall order – however they have not dele-ted it they have apparently decided they have noexposure. Or have they decided, or is it a potential
timebomb waiting for Soniq to discover it and hold
Kogan liable?Example 2Does Telstra need to verify any of these claims, ordelete posts?
Similar to the Kogan example, if Josef Sakac worked
in a Telstra store or was afliated with Telstra would
this comment expose Telstra to the ACCC? Or if hewas actually a cost accountant with a specializa-tion in comparing telephone contracts would thisbe OK?Example 3Does Optus need to REQUEST TELSTRA to deletethis postfrom the Telstra Facebook page?
If Matthew Hobbs works for or is aliated with
Optus should Optus ask Telstra to delete the post?
If Matthew Hobbs works for or is aliated with
Telstra are Telstra risk-free to leave this post online?
Example 4Should Telstra feel at ease to leave this post?
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 Page 2
 
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Why who you are might change who is responsible for your Facebook post
If Timothy Heywood is a Telstra employee or as-sociated with Telstra should Telstra feel nervousabout him being potentially misleading?If Timothy Heywood is an Optus employee or as-sociated with Optus are Telstra off free in the eyesof the ACCC?
If Timothy Heywood is Telstra employee and works
in marketing should Telstra feel exposed?
If Timothy Heywood is a highly qualied mobile
network engineer who works for Telstra and spe-
cialises in network coverage and performance and
he kept videos and technical notes of his experiment
should Telstra feel free of risk to leave this post?
Summary
So you get the idea – what might be considered “false,
misleading or deceptive”
depends on the person
 
making such claims, and their afliations, and their
expertise and qualications – doesn’t it?
And to be free from risk, brands need to monitorcomments on their competitors’ social networksand make a judgement about whether to ask their
competitors to delete posts. Or do they, or don’t they?
All in all this is very grey and that’s one reason that
we said that the ruling seems to be out of touch with
the reality of social networks.If you have suggestions on how these cases shouldbe handled to comply with the ACCC ruling thenplease let us know, or other examples.
Slightly off-topic but related is the question of how all
this, including the ASB ruling,
effects Facebook
the
corporation and companies
operating anywhereelse
on the planet in relation to Facebook. It’s a
question that’s been a copywriter’s favourite – some
declaring another nail in Facebook’s cofn. Fortuna
-
telyNicholas Carahsuccintly sums up the position:
The ASB is an industry-run organisation. Ad-vertising is largely self-regulated. In this case,
the ASB made decisions related to two brandsthat are ‘signed’ up to the ASB process and thecodes it operates. The brands voluntarily par-
ticipate in the process and act in accordancewith the decisions.The decision doesn’t relate to the conduct of Facebook, but to the brands.The decision can only affect companies that
have chosen to participate in the ASB process.
This type of issue emphasizes the need for an overall
social governance framework
. However of itself 
it does not make that framework more complex – it
 just points to elements within the framework thatneed very careful operational risk management.
The overall framework is still the social governance
“master plan”.WalterAFollow @adamson Join me on Google+My Social Presencehttp://xeeme.com/walter
30/08/2012 10:37
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