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Misleading conduct on social media

Businesses are becoming increasingly dependent on social media as a marketing tool and way to interact with existing and potential customers.

Although social media draws many benefits for businesses and customers alike; social media needs to be treated like traditional forms of advertising in that comments and opinions are not false, misleading or deceptive. Business owners are responsible for the content on their pages, irrespective of who published it.

Consumer protection laws apply to social media in the same way they apply to any other marketing activities. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) may require businesses to substantiate any claims that may be false, misleading or deceptive on their social media pages.

To avoid breaching any consumer protection laws, business owners should consider the following:

Business owners are accountable for the posts and public comments made by others on their social media pages. Therefore, it is your business’s responsibility to monitor comments to ensure they are not false or likely to mislead and deceive consumers.

Social media pages need to be regularly monitored to ensure followers of your business’s page do not post claims that could be considered false, misleading or deceptive. The amount of time you dedicate to monitoring your social media will depend on the size of your business and the amount of followers you have.

Consider establishing ‘house rules’ that apply to the behaviour expected from your social media followers, and ensure it is featured prominently on your pages. Followers who breach these rules should be blocked from your pages.

Businesses can choose to respond to false or misleading comments instead of removing them but it may not override the false impression made by the original comments. In most cases, it is safer to remove comments as soon as you become aware of them.

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