The Zuck has oft been quoted as saying his mission is to make the world more open and connected. Very noble Zuck, thanks!

One of the key principles necessary to make this happen is Freedom of Speech. The only problem with Freedom of Speech is it means you need to let the moronic, the ignorant and the downright hateful have their say too.

So, what if one of those hateful, ignorant morons makes a nasty comment on your company’s Facebook wall or Twitter stream? Of course, if you’re a normal, rational person, you remove it and probably block that person from posting again. Maybe that doesn’t strictly adhere to the tenets of Free Speech, but who cares – it’s the right thing to do.

BUT…what if you didn’t even see that post?

AND…what if someone else DID see that post – and was offended by it?

According the Advertising Standards Bureau in Australia (ASB), you are responsible for that content!

Didn’t post it? Doesn’t matter! Didn’t even see it? Still doesn’t matter!

See, what happened is, a few of these haters joined the Smirnoff Vodka Facebook page as Fans and then posted some pretty crude stuff. Someone took offence and lodged a complaint with the ASB, who are the self-regulatory body of the Ad industry in Oz.

Smirnoff’s owners, the mega-booze barons Diageo, argued that Facebook was a tool for networking and communicating, not advertising. The ASB held that Facebook can also absolutely be a tool for marketing and promotion – and therefore is subject to the same standards of behaviour as any other publishing platform.

Hmmm? Methinks we have a dilemma!

This follows on from a similar decision by theĀ Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) last year where they charged a company called Allergy Pathway for having false and misleading statements on their Facebook and Twitter pages – even though they didn’t post them.

The way we see it is this should all come down to what’s fair and reasonable. If someone posted something nasty on your Facebook page at 3am, while you were all snuggled up in bed and then someone on the other side of world saw it and took offence and lodged a complaint about you, before you even woke up, should you be held accountable?

Maybe Facebook needs to implement a ‘moderate first’ function to company pages, much like many forums do.

What do you think?

 

PS: Thanks to Smart Company for much of the info & inspiration for this post.

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