The numbers are no longer the story. Across different markets in Asia Pacific, the explosion of users on social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn – isn’t the only testament to their popularity and influence.
Increasingly, the conversation has turned to content ownership as governments and official bodies scramble to understand social media platforms, control content and hold users, brands and at times, the platforms themselves, responsible for content posted.
This will affect how brands use social media. The beauty of social channels is that it allows marketeers to engage in a two-way dialogue with their customers, and gauge direct and instantaneous feedback on what they think, feel and want from the company. But who owns the dialogue, the content? Does it depend on where the conversation is hosted?
Ask Australia’s advertising watchdog, the Advertising Standards Bureau and it will hold the brands responsible for the content. Last month, the ASB determined that a brand’s Facebook page is an ad platform with all its material – including user-generated content – liable under the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) code of ethics.
The ruling was made while hearing complaints against Diageo, the agency in charge of Smirnoff Vodka’s Facebook Page, which failed to remove comments that vilified sexual identity, discriminated against women and used obscene language from the page. While the complaint was dismissed, the ABS ruling will have far reaching implications for companies using Facebook as a marketing channel.
The ASB ruling will make it mandatory for brands to closely monitor and moderate content posted on its official Facebook pages. Impossibly high-risk management levels aside, the ruling raises several other questions.
How quickly does offensive content need to be removed? How can social media staff be appropriately trained to respond effectively and in line with the AANA code? Who has the legal liability: The brand, the agency, the individual responsible for Facebook moderation? What if the Facebook Page was not created as part of an advertising campaign, but to support corporate brand awareness or communities? And what about other platforms such as company pages on LinkedIn, do the same rules apply to them? For the brands themselves, there is yet another risk in place – managing criticism from users for deleting content from their pages.
From a long-term perspective, content moderation or control of social media platforms is hardly a sustainable proposition. It goes against the definition of social media platforms, and blocking a Twitter account, removing a Facebook posts or page often means the content going viral.
Do you think it is possible to control and assign ownership of content on social media platforms?
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