Can You Afford a $7500 Fine for a Facebook Fan’s Comment?

We all have seen the fan comments that have embellished a businesses service or product because they know the owner and they think they're helping build their friend's fan base on the businesses Facebook Fan Page…. BUT… As the Business Owner you will be responsible for leaving fans' misleading or deceptive testimonials on your Fan Page or Twitter feed.

We all have seen the fan comments that have embellished a businesses service or product because they know the owner and they think they’re helping build their friend’s fan base on the businesses Facebook Fan Page…. BUT… As the Business Owner you will be responsible for leaving fans’ misleading or deceptive testimonials on your Fan Page or Twitter feed.

This has not just happened in America either. ACCC (Australian Competition & Consumer Commission) found questionable testimonials and posts written by followers of the company, Allergy Pathway on their Facebook Fan Page wall, website and Twitter Account and they were ordered to remove them. The Federal Court System in 2009 then found them in contempt because even though Allergy Pathways is represented by a 3rd party Social Media group they are responsible for allowing the embellished testimonials of clients to continue to be visible to the public.

As a result the business was ordered not “for a period of 3 years… to… make or publish or cause to be made or be published, in any internet website, radio, televise or newspaper advertisements or brochures or other written promotional material” similar false statements about the company.

But as you know this would be very difficult to monitor for any size of business and Allergy Pathway were fined $7500 for allowing false and misleading testimonials to be published on their Facebook and Twitter Profiles

This is the first case ACCC has dealt with involving Social Media and it should be considered a grave warning for all businesses using Social Media Marketing or third party Social Media Services representing them, to be alert to the comments made by followers at all times.

It does lead me to question whether the Social Media Service business could be taken to court because it may be considered a breach of contract between them and the Allergy Pathway as a client. It would have been part of their service agreement to monitor information posted about the business.

Unfortunately, sometimes using large Social Media Service providers means the ‘service’ to each individual ‘clients needs’ gets watered down and many automated systems are used to monitor Social Accounts as it is more time and cost effective in staff utilisation.

My recommendation is to always find a Social Media Service who has ‘live’ client accounts so you can see what you will get and ask what systems are used for posting and monitoring comments if they use them. It is not out of place to even ask to speak to a current client about the service you provide. If the Social Media Service has a good relationship with their clients, they would certainly have one or two willing to share their own experience with another business owner, I know we are!

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