The Australian Competition And Consumer Commission has entered the row over corporate Facebook pages, saying that it expects large businesses to act to remove offensive material within 24 hours – or face the prospect of a large fine

The Advertising Standards Bureau last week ruled that public comments published on corporate Facebook pages – along with other business-oriented social media pages – count as advertising (CDN, Aug. 7).

 The bureau gave its ruling following complaints made about what were claimed to be examples of obscenity, sexism, racism, and depictions of irresponsible drinking made by fans on a Smirnoff/VB Facebook page.

 In a separate case Facebook A/NZ has acted to remove a member page that published extravagantly racist material denigrating Australian Aborigines after the company’s Australian office was warned that it was in breach of Australian anti-discrimination laws.

 Earlier Facebook had declined to remove similar material, claiming it did not contravene its terms and simply re-defining the material as “controversial humour”. It appears to have changed its mind after Race Discrimination Commissioner Helen Szoke warned that the page might breach race discrimination laws.

In the latest event – related more to the VB/Smirnoff affair – the ACCC warned that companies need to police consumer-to-consumer comments on their Web pages, and move within 24 hours to remove any that break the rules.

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