Social Media has grown in the professional world after the social boom of private Facebook profiles. Organisations and businesses are using social media tools, such as Facebook; to advertise and connect with their fans and consumers. As previously discussed, the use of social media within the organisation has many benefits – such as building a better reputation amongst the younger generation; however there are also many legal risks for the organisation to consider when putting their business up on a social media platform. The common legal risks are listed as follows:
- Technology risks – such as viruses & malware
- Statutory risk – such as trade marks, copyright, privacy, TPA/CCA & Defamation
- Advertising Standards (user comments are regarded as advertisements)
- Reputation risks – Unsavoury comments or images next to you/your organisation
Of course due to the new nature of social media to businesses, there are many cases where businesses have suffered legally from the use of Facebook. Lets look at Smirnoff Vodka as an example. Smirnoff Vodka suffered a complaint from a fan about comments on the Smirnoff Vodka page being sexist, racist, obscene and contained depictions of irresponsible drinking. As a result, an investigation was commenced by the Advertising Standards Board (ABS) which found that Smirnoff Vodka’s Facebook page is a marketing communication tool as it is used to draw attention of a segment of the public to a product; and therefore held liable for the comments being posted by their fans on their Facebook wall. This is an example of advertising standards legal risks through the use of Facebook. Smirnoff Vodka are lucky, as this risk could of possibly escalated to defamation and reputation risks if the company coped more abuse from unhappy Facebook fans. What better way to see a result then to write a complaint on an organisation’s Facebook wall? If the organisation had monitored all posts and comments on their wall straight away, they would of avoided this issue; however there was no precedant at that point in time for this sort of legal case Smirnoff Vodka resolved this issue by monitoring all comments and posts on their Facebook wall to ensure fans are consistently meeting ABS guidelines.