Risky Business: How Uncurated Corporate Social Media Streams Will Leave you with a Legal, Ethical and Moral Liability

The term ‘vicarious liability’ usually arises when an employee’s improper actions or behaviours become the responsibility of their Employer. In most cases, the action or behaviour is legally, ethically and morally objectionable or offensive: to both the Employers’ clients and the public in general.

The recent Australian Advertising Standards Board ruling that advises that a Facebook Page is considered a “marketing communication tool”, therefore infers that any Company with a Facebook Page is ‘vicariously liable’ for the actions or behaviours of its online entourage. In a ruling that encompasses all social media streams, this ruling means that you are responsible for the content anyone posts on any of your social media streams, not just employees, at any given time.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission suggests that best practice, for large companies, is to remove any offensive, illicit or objectionable material from their social media streams within 24 hours.

What does this mean for business, companies and organisations currently marketing via social media?


Could your company identify, assess and remove online content within 24 hours?

Have you assessed the damage that could be caused to your Brand, or your client’s brand, in the time it takes you to identify, assess and remove offensive or inappropriate content from your social media stream under your current social media management arrangements?
How will you manage the fallout and resultant media while retaining your Brand’s image and integrity; and do you have the expertise and resourcing necessary to achieve this?

The answer isn’t switching off your social media marketing accounts- you can effectively, efficiently and automatically manage these risks to:

  • Comply with the Australian Advertising Standards Board’s ruling
  • Manage your online risk
  • Maintain your Brand and Product’s integrity
  • Enhance your online entourage’s confidence in your Brand’s ability to curate their social media streams effectively and in a timely manner.

There are three key ways that Defining Social can protect your Brand or that of your client:

Risk Analysis
Defining Social in partnership with Social IQ Networks and Netbox Blue have the tools to identify your social media risks and identify posts that will do you harm. Defining Social can give you a real-time view of your current digital footprint, and identify risk mitigation strategies tailored to your online activities.

Risk Management
Defining Social can develop a strategy that will stop known risks from hitting the web: our software will prevent offensive or objectionable posts from being posted. Our software will notify you, or your social media management team, of any posts that require their immediate attention so action can be taken quickly, minimising the risk of a public relations disaster.

Crisis Communication and Public Relations
Defining Social can manage, or put systems in place to manage, your crisis communication and public relations campaign in the event of any pre-existing or previously unknown risks that present which breach the Advertising Standards Bureau’s Code of Ethics (or any law).

Holistically successful online corporate communication requires expert curation across all your social media streams. To protect your brand or reputation you need to proactively mitigate your risks.

*** This post was written by Nicole Matejic and reproduced with permission by Defining Social in 2012***