16 April 2008 | Henry Elliss

New UK Laws to Outlaw Flogging

… Flogging of course being the term for Fake Blogging!

New laws being introduced in the UK next month should see fake bloggers being penalised (or even arrested) for their actions, according to the IPA. The new regulations fall under the ‘Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations’ and extends the coverage from just traditional marketing to online. To outline it in simple form, the new law states "falsely claiming or creating the impression that the trader is not acting for the purposes relating to his trade, business, craft or profession, or falsely representing oneself as a consumer [is now an offense]"

The average online marketer – particularly those working in the Social Media space – will need to be very aware of these new rules while working with their clients. Amongst other things, the new law will put an end to the following:

  • Writing blogs under the guise of a consumer when in fact it’s written by a company. Wal-mart’s famous "Wal-marting across America" is a perfect example of this going wrong.
  • Using marketers to communicate to potential consumers or brand advocates without revealing their affiliation to a brand. Fake comments in forums or blog responses are the usual candidate for this sort of action.
  • Seeding or creating ‘Viral’ elements that are intended to look like they’ve been made by members of the public. Sony fell foul of a fake viral campaign being rumbled a year or so back, with their "All I want for Xmas is a PSP" debacle.

As a Social Media marketer myself, it’ll be very interesting to see how this all develops. I’ll be particularly interested to see if this weeds out any fake groups or fan pages from Facebook, as there’s been a lot of talk recently about the validity of certain facebook ‘fan’ campaigns…

Henry Elliss

Henry Elliss

Managing Director at Tamar, I've also headed-up the Search team for 7 years.

  • http://www.tamar.com Neil Jackson

    Without wishing to sound too sanctimonious I think this is a good thing. Tightening up controls without limiting expression and creativity is the way to handle this. But let’s see how it works in practice!

  • Robin

    This behaviour smacks of Gestapo, how can the validity of a campaign – maybe there are Sony employees that are really pasisonate about their products. Besides it’s not like they are making any less effort than real consumers.
    And lets face it online campaigns are about effort, whether it be natural fan-boy-type -hype or sinister-corporate-puppetry it still takes a lot of effort…