UK regulates Facebook and Twitter marketing

Social media marketing by UK companies will be regulated for the first time from tomorrow as part of the Advertising Standards Authority’s newly expanded digital remit.

This will see online marketing by all UK companies – regardless of their size or the sector they operate in – come under the control of the ASA.

It will apply to “marketing communications” on organisations’ own websites as well as any “non-paid-for space” they control – including social media marketing on sites like Facebook and Twitter.

The changes could also see user-generated content fall within the ASA’s remit, but only if organisations choose to adopt it in their online marketing communications.

The ASA, which already oversees print, television and radio marketing, also has paid-for search advertising in its sights, and will gain powers to remove such ads if they break the rules. Beyond that it’s working with Google to investigate SEO practices.

Although the ASA is a UK body, it won’t be just .co.uk websites that need to comply – other domains such as .com will be liable if run by organisations operating from the UK.

The Cap Code

From 1 March the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (the Cap Code) will apply in full to marketing messages online.

As such it won’t apply to communications such as press releases or other PR materials, editorial content, corporate reports, which remain outside its remit.

Prior to the changes the Code had a limited digital remit that only covered areas like email and banner adverts.

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