Legal Issues for the Broadcaster in Social Media Advertising

Social media has emerged as the biggest avenue for interaction, information and content sharing making it an attractive prospect for advertisers who have gravitated in large numbers towards it lured by the substantial user base encompassing all strata of the society. The proliferation of easily carried smart devices has also contributed in making this channel an appealing prospect for this purpose but at the same time it has become important for the broadcasters to be conscious of their responsibility as accompanied with it are legal issues which can pop up because of the low awareness about the rules and correct practices associated with promoting a product on such platforms. This article will try to shed light on this topic.

Copyright

Almost everyone is familiar with this term but many people and even big corporations have been accused of its infringement simply because of poor knowledge.  Just because something has been uploaded on the web does not mean that it can be utilized by anyone for any motive making checking of the rightful owner and approaching  him/her for permission. Before using an image in a campaign, its ownership should be verified and the rights bought from that entity with explicit mention of its final usage. In case of a music piece used for similar purposes, the license for the track should be obtained. In all third party materials like infographics, diagrams etc., clearances should be sought before utilizing them for product publicity.

 

A reverse case scenario is also possible when you are a victim of such an offence and in that case there should be no hesitance in approaching the best law firms which have the requisite expertise in the field, for help in taking corrective action.

 

Influencer Marketing

This mode of  promotion is used by some brands which involves using a person with leverage over the target audience to endorse their products but it requires the influencer to make public the nature of his link with the manufacturer enabling the purchaser to make an informed choice. Some people use ambiguous content and the prospective buyer is fooled into thinking that it is a genuine, honest opinion and therefore it has been made a punishable offence in some areas.

Misleading Offers

Consumer protection laws require a broadcaster to refrain from airing any material with fraudulent or deceptive claims used for publicity of a commodity or service and their scope is not limited to the advertisement only but go beyond to client reactions and testimonials which sometimes are manipulated in order to show an item in favourable light. In case of celebrity endorsements, if the personality’s accounts are used for the purpose, it is mandatory for the person in question to disclose the connection. Conversely, a broadcaster cannot imply an alliance which is non existent and can get punished for the same.

Advertising Standards

Every marketplace is governed by a set of rules which any marketer has to follow while talking up his commodity and just like other forms like television and radio, social media has to adhere to them too. These codes of conduct are detailed and are industry specific (like separate guidelines for food industry and pharmaceuticals), as also age-group specific (language restrictions while addressing children ) and also take care of other sensitive issues pertaining to different societal groups. As you may have well understood that contravention of these stipulations will not only earn a reprimand from the local guidelines body but also ire of the relevant government department, it is advisable to scan the information meticulously before uploading it.

Confidentiality

Probably the most serious of all the legal issues a broadcaster can get tangled in and with rising user consciousness it has no doubt become a very sensitive topic as well. Almost all the platforms have a privacy policy which anyone wishing to use their services has to adhere to but most of the time these jargon filled documents are read by none before opting for and a lot of these contained personal information sharing permissions. A broadcaster has to ensure that the collection, use and sharing of any sort of personal data is not being shared with the promoters without the proper subscriber permissions. As people have become more and more sentient of their privacy, increasing number of case of broadcasters being sued are being reported and subsequently they are being forced to make changes to the policy.

Defamation

Any campaign which vilifies a third person or institution or a competitor wrongly is fit for judicial intervention. In some places, one cannot name a rival in an advertising campaign and doing so attracts penalties. Moreover,  the broadcaster does not escape responsibility and therefore has to make sure that the content used is not of such nature.

Promotional Contests

A common method employed to attract potential consumers but once again governed by the law of the land and every market has its own regulations necessitating extreme care on part of the airer when displaying such campaigns. Lotteries are banned in a lot of areas while skill-based contests are permitted but the directives concerning them may be different in every region. All this has to be factored in with complete list of rules and regulations displayed while beaming content like this.

 

Terms and Conditions

All relevant information pertaining to the merchandise being promoted as well as its commercial has to be shared clearly defining every aspect like free offers and their validity periods apart from refund and return policies and professionals should be hired to formulate them as any incorrect wording can also cause litigation.

Endnote

Social media marketing has become an indispensable part of the promotion strategy for any campaign but it requires utmost caution and circumspection regarding not only the content but also the laws related to every aspect of the publicity venture, failing which it is very likely that the broadcaster gets entangled in legal issues.

 

Author Bio:

Amy Jones is a versatile legal expert and working in Ahlawat & Associates for last 2 year. One of the top law firms in India where you can discuss with experts about your legal problems. You can likewise follow Amy on twitter