Consumer law applies to social media
Many businesses use social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to talk to customers and promote their products and services.
The same rules that apply to all advertising and promotions apply to social media, including:
- a business’s posts on its own social media accounts
- advertising on other social media platforms
- social media posts that a business pays for
- social media posts that a business offers incentives to influencers to make.
Claims must be truthful
Businesses must not make false or misleading claims on social media.
Any information a business posts on social media must be accurate and truthful, including:
- prices for products and services
- images and descriptions of products and services
- claims about the value, benefits, qualities or performance of their products or services
- information about shipping options and delivery times.
Businesses unsure about what can and can’t be said on social media should get legal advice.
Case study of businesses that made untruthful claims on social media
The ACCC alleged that Amaysim Australia Ltd and Lycamobile Pty Ltd each separately misrepresented that their mobile phone plans were ‘unlimited’ in advertisements on Twitter and Facebook. In fact, the plans had a maximum data allowance.
The ACCC issued an infringement notice to each company for alleged false or misleading representations about their mobile phone plans. Amaysim paid $126,000 and Lycamobile paid $12,600 in penalties.
Read more in the Amaysim and Lycamobile ACCC media release.
Online product and service reviews
It's against the law for a business to mislead consumers through online reviews. Reviews should be independent and reflect the genuine opinion of the person who experienced the product or service.
Consumers can look for signs that a review may be fake.
See online product and service reviews for more information.
Example of a misleading review
A hotel chain pays an influencer to tweet that she loved staying at one of their resorts. However, the influencer has never actually been to the resort.
This tweet is likely to be false, misleading or deceptive.
Businesses are responsible for all posts on their pages
Businesses are also responsible for comments and posts that others make on their social media pages which are false or likely to mislead.
- set clear rules for how others can post on their page and display them prominently
- block users who break the rules about posting
- remove or respond to any posts, including reviews, that may be false or misleading.
The response a business makes to any misleading comment must be enough to override the false impression made by the original post, so it is usually safer to remove the comment.