If you have a Facebook business page, you need to read this – it may change how you view your role as page admin.
Recently a landmark judgement in NSW held business owners to be responsible for third party comments on their Facebook page and groups.
This decision impacts ALL Facebook page owners, but it should not cause panic.
Instead, it raises the bar for responsible management of a key and powerful piece of marketing collateral in your business – your Facebook business page.
Most small business owners have a business page, often our businesses often start with and are built on our Facebook business pages. But do you moderate your Facebook page comments and posts?
Whilst you don’t “own” your Facebook page, you created it. You created the space for people to gather and communicate, so therefore you (and your page admins) have a responsibility to manage your Facebook page as editors in chief.
Any posts, comments, imagery or links shared on your page are your responsibility to manage. Further to this, should you leave this kind of content visible, you are “endorsing” this material.
This judgement highlights that you need to show that you are not a party to publishing defamatory material, and that you deal with such third party posts immediately when they occur. Allowing publication of defamatory material in a space you created just because creates engagement is not a responsible practice.
In reality, most of us in the small business space are already vigilant and swift to act where there are inappropriate, defamatory or inflammatory posts by third parties.
The point is you cannot be oblivious to what conversations are occurring on your page because if you leave defamatory or inflammatory comments visible it will result in legal consequences for you.
What can you do to avoid legal ramifications?
- Review and monitor all posts and comments regularly – if you are too busy then its time to get an admin to do this
- Set stronger filters for comments – start here for how to do this
- Remove or hide defamatory or inflammatory comments when they occur
- Or, just switch off commentary entirely
This ruling also impacts Facebook Groups
You and your Facebook group admins must ensure that no posts, comments, imagery, or links contain defamatory and inflammatory information. If they do they need to be removed immediately.
The responsibility of keeping your Facebook Group clear of defamatory and inflammatory posts cannot be avoided or disclaimed in group rules.
Bottom line: You cannot set and forget as a Facebook page or group owner. Regular moderation is a must!
Note: This is a recent judgement and may be appealed in future, but for now, act as if it is the new standard.
For more information about this ruling, see this article by Travis Shultz Law.
Lawyer, Contract Specialist, Speaker & Advocate for Women in Business.
Drawing on more than 15 years’ experience as a lawyer and a woman in business, Shalini Nandan-Singh helps Australian service-based entrepreneurs protect their businesses and their bottom lines with empowered legal advice and contracts.
Encouraging listeners to #loveyourlegals, Shalini firmly believes that business legals should be an authentic extension of your business. Her goal is to educate audiences that, rather than confusing legalese, business legals should be an authentic extension of your business, creating positive business boundaries that support you in working with your clients with compassion and understanding.
Disclaimer: This blog is written to support business owners to consider legal requirements and issues that may arise in business. The information provided is for general and educational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice for your individual circumstances. Please consult your lawyer for advice specific to you and your business.