Social media guidance for journalists: Any paid-for content must be clearly labelled

Journalists promoting brands on social media channels like Twitter and Facebook should heed new guidance from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The ASA has clarified whether it classifies social media content featuring brands as ‘advertorial’ or ‘sponsored’.

Here are the rules:

ADVERTORIAL CONTENT

Advertorial is any content in editorial space which is:

    • paid for by a brand and
    • the brand exercises some degree of editorial control over it
    • It is advertising, and is regulated by the CAP Code. It must
      • be clearly marked with a label such as “advertisement feature”, “advertisement” , or “ad”
      • not mislead (or be likely to do so); and
      • not imply that expressions of opinion are objective claims.

The publishers and the brands share responsibility for ensuring that accurate terms are used to label, and describe content.

SPONSORED CONTENT

Sponsored content is:

    • paid for, but
    • leaves editorial control entirely with the creator
    • not advertising, and are not regulated by the CAP Code
    • is still covered by consumer protection and competition laws.

Cleland Thom is author of Online law for journalists

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