As representatives of the IAB Social Media Council group-within-a-group (The Control, Monitoring and Self-Regulation sub-group no less), we always keep a keen ear out for the latest rumblings in the world of social media legistlation.
It is therefore with interest that within a few months of the impending launch of the ASA Social Media rules, there are many impassioned stories of other governing bodies and indeed legislative figures taking firm action against social media wrongdoings.
These range from high profile cases of Ryan Babel’s ’slanderous’ comments about Premier League referee Howard Webb, Courtney Love’s defamation case as charged by her fashion designer Boudoir Queen and on a smaller yet no less insignificant scale, the resurgence of the example that courts made of Paul Chambers in 2010 whom was fined £3000 for a twitter rant threatening to blow up Robin Hood airport in frustration at the delays caused by snow.
However, despite the FA, Crown Court and State Laws showing that they are taking matters of social media communications very seriously, there is one case this week that interests us much more: That is that of the OFT’s involvement in the transparency of blogger relations.
It is the first time the OFT has brought a case like this to the courts, with regards to a PR company whose blogger network did allegedly not disclose that they were being paid for endorsement.
However the question begs to be asked as to how to effectively regulate the responsibility of the company in ensuring bloggers, tweeters and advocates are transparent and honest about their brand affiliations? Twitter seems to be managing promoted hashtag tweets quite well (see handy video if you want to try it yourself), so do ‘sponsored blog’ badges hold the answer with regards influencers?
As self-regulators and perpetuators of best practise we at the IAB recognise the importance of corporate responsibility, honesty with the audience and, well, common sense. So it is heartening to see that these hypotheses have been taken seriously this side of the Atlantic. Indeed, it has even spurred some collaboration by way of the CAP and CIPR joining final-leg discussions to iron out some of these kinks.
We know what the laws of transparency are, now we see the rising of real life examples of how culpability is actually assigned. How can agencies really ensure that, once in the hands of the masses, the law is applied? Will these necessary shackles in fact add to the eventual demise in sponsored social and make way for earned social media to rise through the ranks?
Answers on a postcard…