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Should Facebook Comments Be Viewed As Advertisements?



One of the great things about Facebook is the fact that a brand can have an active community that is constantly commenting on how much it loves (or the flip side is hates) the brand and why. It’s the idea that Facebook is a community and a place where people can express themselves as they see fit.

Well, that is changing at least down under. The Sydney Morning Herlad reports (hat tip to WebProNews)

A landmark ruling that Facebook is an advertising medium – and not just a way to communicate – will force companies to vet comments posted by the public to ensure they are not sexist, racist or factually inaccurate.

In a move that could change the nature of the social networking site forever, companies could be fined or publicly shamed for the comments that appear on their Facebook ”brand” pages.

This ruling came from the Advertising Standards Board which ruled on a case involving Smirnoff Vodka.

Imagine you are the social media manager for Enormo Brand and you would be tasked with looking at every single comment on Facebook, and likely every single tweet etc., etc., and then deciding whether that comment or tweet measured up to what is considered legal by a standards board that could see it differently. Would the job then become more of being a social media cop than a community manager? The potential implications are quite broad if this practice were to be accepted worldwide.

What are your thoughts on comments and tweets on a brand page? Are they free speech or should they be policed to ensure that they are factually correct and then deleted because they didn’t meet the threshold of some board’s vision of advertising correctness?

Once again this starts to play into the area of whether social media is actually free speech or is it just another communication channel that governments feel they need to regulate and control. I know that giving full free speech rights to people carries its downside but having what can be said and if it can be said at all monitored for ‘correctness’ is far scarier in my opinion.

What do you think? Should companies be responsible for monitoring Facebook comments (and more) to ensure that what is being said by fans and followers is compliant with regulations whether they come from quasi of full governmental entities?