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Social media and the law

24.04.15

While the majority of professionals in Manchester have spent their evenings enjoying the sunshine in beer gardens or at the park this week, us Jammers have been channeling our inner-geek and getting wised-up on social media in the law.

As social media specialists managing the social media channels for the majority of our clients, it is imperative that we keep up to date in terms of the changing rules and regulations that affect online content.

On Tuesday evening, we attended a seminar on this subject, hosted by CIPR North West and delivered by the very talented and hilarious @SteveKuncewicz, Head of Intellectual Property and Media at Bermans .

Steve explained that the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) ensures that we abide by a CAP code (Committee of Advertising Practice), which means social media content must be “legal, decent, honest and truthful”.

For example, Facebook Ads and Promoted Tweets are easily recognisable as advertisements due to their layout and labelling. However, Twitter endorsements from a celebrity can be deemed as misleading if it is not made clear that the celebrity has been paid to tweet about a product. This would ultimately be untruthful.

Steve provided the example of Wayne Rooney, who was reprimanded for tweets about @Nike last year. His tweet made it appear as though he was a consumer, however he was paid money for the marketing tweet:

The ASA says social media adverts made via celebrities should incorporate the hashtags #ad or #spon. Wayne has now started to use the approved hashtag.

PR professionals who coordinate celebrity endorsements must always adhere to the ASA’s rules, in turn guaranteeing that consumers receive clear and honest messages.

The seminar was also timely considering the Katie Hopkins scandal, which has hit the headlines this week.

‘Rent-a-gob’ made some shocking comments where she compared migrants to “cockroaches” and insisted she “doesn’t care if migrants die while trying to leave their countries by boat”.

While you might think social media is a platform for free speech, Katie has been reported to police for inciting racial hatred.

Katie would do well to remember the case of Paul Chambers, who, Steve informed us this week, was found guilty in May 2010 of sending a “menacing electronic communication”, when he tweeted that he would blow up nearby Robin Hood Airport. Crikey!

As Steve outlined in his seminar, causing anxiety or fear will result in serious consequences, even if it’s something said in cyber space.

The JAM team found Steve’s seminar incredibly useful and interesting.  For more information on training days, seminars and networking events organised by @CIPRNorthWest, visit: http://www.cipr.co.uk/content/member-groups/north-west/events

Finally, all stories should have a happy ending, so we’ll just leave you with this… Katie Hopkins has inadvertently helped to raise more than £24,000 for the charities Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and Migrant Offshore Aid Station, after her comments provoked Izzy Saunders to set up a JustGiving page. The money will go towards helping the charities to launch a joint search, rescue and medical aid operation in the Mediterranean. The fundraiser also started a petition asking for Katie to be removed as a columnist for @TheSun. Bravo, Britain!

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