A new set of guidelines issued by the Internet Advertising Bureau which seek to loosen the obligations of brands to police their social media pages has been labelled as “irrelevant” by the Australian Association of National Advertisers.
Earlier today the IAB issued guidelines saying that content on a brand’s page in place like Facebook should not be treated as advertising.
It contradicted earlier rulings from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Advertising Standards Board – which enforces the self-regulatory rules set down by the AANA – that brands are responsible for the content on their pages. It also suggested looser standards about how often brands should moderate the content from the public on their pages.
This afternoon, the AANA issued a statement saying: “The Australian Association of National Advertisers has today reaffirmed its commitment to how the AANA self regulatory Codes will apply in the digital space and have described the IAB’s comments as irrelevant to brand owners and the operation of the self-regulatory system.”
The AANA stressed that if brands follow the IAB’s advice, they could be found guilty next time there is a complaint against them to the ASB.
The AANA’s new CEO Sunita Gloster said: “The IAB is entitled to its opinion but the reality is that brand owners are committed to the principle that the spirit of the self-regulatory Codes must apply equally in both digital and traditional media. The IAB’s comments will have no bearing on brand owners’ commitment to abide by ASB judgements and the ASB will continue to adjudicate on consumer complaints according to the AANA Codes.”
She added: ““I repeat what we said in November when the AANA updated our practice notes. The reality is that irrespective of the ASB’s determination, any brand owner, who understands and wishes to manage reputational risk, should be adopting these practices. The community absolutely expects that brand owners should aspire to the same ethical standards in the digital space as they do in mainstream media. Also, the suggestion that the application of the Codes to social media will lead to brands vacating the social media space or inhibit dialogue is completely without foundation. Our members say it is business as usual. The reality is that brand owners who do not exercise reasonable care over what is posted and allowed to remain on their social media pages are hostage to fortune and such behaviour is simply anathema to sound brand management and good corporate governance.”
July 18 update: The IAB’s acting CEO Samantha Yorke said: “The IAB’s guidance on social media user comment moderation is consistent with that issued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in highlighting the need for an organisation to have knowledge or awareness of an illegal user comment before being held responsible for it. The IAB consulted extensively across the industry to ensure that the recommendations made within the guideline were sensible, practical and had the support of advertisers, agencies, social media platform operators and moderation practitioners. We maintain that it is not commonly accepted that organisations are responsible for anything that anybody says on their branded social media channels. “