When Online Buzz Becomes Illegal

January 07, 2013 by Linda Anger

When Online Buzz Becomes Illegal

When Online Buzz Becomes IllegalWe all want positive chatter online – great endorsements and the kudos of happy customers. But when the “buzz” is fabricated, it’s not only discouraging to prospective customers, it’s also illegal.

August 2012 saw a national data broker under investigation for endorsement allegations by the FTC. Turns out management instructed employees to write glowing comments on the company’s services. The comments were “edited” by management then posted on social media sites using account names provided by the company.

If you use social media in your marketing or on behalf of clients, be aware that under the FTC Act, consumers have a right to know when there is a material connection between an advertiser and an endorser, and it’s on your shoulders to make sure you and the companies you represent are in compliance.

 

What You Can Do Today:

  • Check out the FTC’s Endorsement Guides and draft a Company Policy.
  • Let your employees know that they need to know the rules, and understand that you will take action if they choose to disregard the Policy.
  • If someone outside your company is handling your PR and social media, make sure they understand that they, too, can be held accountable for violations.

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