ACCC guidance on business use of social media

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has published a guide (Guide) for small and large businesses who engage with ‘existing and potential’ customers using social media.  Whilst seemingly not stating anything new, the ACCC has restated the need for businesses to ensure that statements made about them on social media sites are accurate.

The ACCC is responsible for enforcing the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) so it’s not surprising that the information in the Guide relates largely to what’s broadly referred to misleading and deceptive conduct.  That said, the Guide also contains information on:

  • time frames for removing posts made by others depending on the size of the organisation and the amount of followers (perhaps reflecting the Allergy Pathways decision);
  • treating social media pages as advertisements;
  • how a business should respond to allegedly false, misleading or deceptive comments instead of removing them;
  • the ACCC’s role in requiring businesses to substantiate claims; and
  • offering refunds to customers who purchased based on false, misleading and deceptive claims.

Recognition of a differential standard

Perhaps the only interesting thing about the Guide is that it differentiates between response times taking into account the amount of consumers likely to be mislead and the size and resources of the business.

Read the full Guide here.

Related social media legal articles

Explaining the Media Bargaining Code
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Allergy Pathway Pty Ltd (No 2) [2011] FCA 74 – commentary by Dundas Lawyers;
Legal risks of social networking for business – commentary by Dundas Lawyers;
User Posts are advertisements – commentary by Dundas Lawyers;

More than social – Business Review Weekly – comments by Malcolm Burrows, Principal Dundas Lawyers.


This article contains general commentary only.  You should not rely on the commentary as legal advice.  Specific legal advice should be obtained to ascertain how the law applies to your particular circumstances.

Malcolm Burrows

Malcolm Burrows B.Bus.,MBA.,LL.B.,LL.M.,MQLS.
Legal Practice Director
Telephone: (07) 3221 0013
Facsimile: (07) 3221 0031
Mobile 0419 726 535
Twitter: @ITCorporatelaw

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