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The Wild Wild West 

Sometimes the Internet feels like the Wild West. While some rules are made to be broken, in this instance we think the laws governing the Internet are only beginning to catch up to the misuses – and it won’t be long until the sheriff is in town.

Facebook Contests
Did you know that Facebook’s promotions guidelines prohibit brands from running a “like to win” contest on their page, without the use of a third-party app? This may be old news to some, but we frequently see major brands risking its page being shut down by asking fans to like the page, tag themselves in a photo or comment on a post to win. Aside from the fact that it’s against Facebook regulations for good reasons (privacy issues) and some of the obvious challenges (how can you randomly choose a winner – and contact them – when many fans don’t use their real names?), this method is ineffective in achieving the virality needed to grow your brand community, when compared to the use of incentivized sharing. So why are brands using a strategy that could land them in Facebook jail without even serving their intended purpose? They don’t know any better. And unfortunately, neither do many of the social media “experts” running their page. Sigh.
What to do? Create a proper contest or sweepstakes following Facebook regulations and abiding by your local laws. Include rules and regulations that have been checked by your lawyer, look into your local laws and hire a company that understands how to create contests that will get fans excited instead of making Facebook angry. P.S. We do this.

Facebook Images
After the Oscars our newsfeed was chock full of celebrity images and brands asking us which starlet sported our favourite gown. Did these brands buy the copyright to these photos? Did they send a representative down to the Kodak Theatre to snap some shots for themselves? If not, they’re violating copyright, and it won’t be long until image licensing agencies like Getty find an efficient way to track down online offenders and ask for their fee, or worse, sue them. And with lawsuit-happy celebs like Lindsay Lohan trawling for any excuse to demand cash, a brand misusing personally owned images may find themselves supplementing LiLo’s party fund.
What to do? Don’t post images you don’t own or haven’t received explicit permission to post. There’s a legal grey area regarding posting an image and linking back to the source, so post and link at your own risk.

The world has become pin-happy with this new networking site that enables users to create inspirational pinboards using images. This recent Business Insider article reveals some of the copyright issues that arise from re-pinning images that the individual or brand doesn’t own. If you’re pulling the image from a blog or site that is already using the image without permission, you’ll be in hot water. Why can’t we just pin freely without concern? Well, photographers deserve to make a living, too. And so do graphic designers and image licensing companies and everyone who works for these companies who would like to keep their jobs. On their sides, brands can now add “nopin” codes and “Pin it” buttons to their sites to encourage or discourage repinning, but it’s still the users’ responsibility (scroll down to read the terrifying links, disclaimers and indemnity sections) to ensure that their pins do not violate copyright laws.
What to do? Brands should encourage users to pin their images by adding a Pin It button where their like and tweet buttons reside. And they shouldn’t pin images they don’t own or don’t have explicit permission to pin. Again, legalities are fuzzy around pinning and linking, so do it at your own risk. And when you do have permission to pin, include the copyright and credit information for every single pinned image. Yes, every single one.

Why do we care so much about these issues? Well, we’re one of those agencies that strives to keep it legal, and we respect privacy and copyright. We constantly see brands skimping on social media, that think it’s just about typing a few words on a page every few hours and nothing more. Brands need to understand that having a Facebook page and a following on Twitter doesn’t make one a social media expert. Expertise does.

References (15)

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