CyberTech Rambler

August 6, 2012

I think it is fair to make companies responsible for comments on their social network site

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 12:33 pm

Via Slashdot, this article says that the Australian Advertising Board might rule that companies are responsible for comments on their social network website or page even if they had not posted the comments themselves. The ruling might imply that moderating the comments twice a day is not enough.

I think that is fair. Why? We cannot treat social network, or internet or any other communication technology as “special case”. They have to abide by the same rules as other. In return, we will apply the same rules and  considerations to them.

If the social network page/site is operated as an advertisement, it has to abide to the rules and regulations governing advertisements. If CUB wants a social network site for their brand, then they must put in the effort to meet the burden, however high the burden is. Thus, if the ruling says the page/site is an advertisement site and thus, moderating the comments  twice a day is not good enough and CUB has to screen all comments, then so be it. CUB’s argument that “the comments on the site reflected conversations that might go on between people in any pub” actually reaffirm CUB’s role for moderating the comment. In a pub, the owner or the manager is always on hand to stop a conversation that can be overhead by other patrons, its equivalent on the net is live moderation, isn’t it? Do you really think a pub owner or manager can get away with “I was not there at the time” when something offensive was overhead?

CUB argument that screening all comments “contrary to the spirit of social media” completely ignores that social media has no duty to provide a avenue for advertising CUB. Perhaps more serious is it is sidelining a commonly agreed convention that nobody, let alone reputable advertisers like CUB, can hide behind technology (i.e.,  social network in this case) for breaches of their duty. If they want to use social media as an advertising media, then it is them who have to find a way for their content to work within the spirit of social media _and_ within the rules governing advertising. If they can, then good luck to them, otherwise they will have to either work harder or walk away.

Later in the article, Google is appealing against a decision that they are responsible  for misleading Ads on their self-service AdWords program. Same argument says that Google can be held responsible if there is too many misleading Ads, i.e., above the norm expected from print media. After all, as far as the AdWord program is concerned, Google is no different from a traditional print media that offer to take and display advertisements. It has to abide by the same rule and we give them the same considerations as we do with print media. The fact that it delivers the advert  via the internet does not matter, nor is the fact the system is automated. If any, the latter means we are expecting less misleading ads, not more. After all, automation is suppose to improve quality, not an excuse for decrease in  quality.

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