Intellectual Property Singapore March 2015 Client Alert March 2015 For further information please contact Andy Leck +65 6434 2525 firstname.lastname@example.org Lim Ren Jun +65 6434 2721 email@example.com Baker & McKenzie.Wong & Leow 8 Marina Boulevard #05-01 Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 1 Singapore 018981 www.bakermckenzie.com New Proposed Advertising Guidelines for Social Media The Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore ("ASAS") is drafting new guidelines for interactive advertising, such as for advertisements on social media sites (e.g. Facebook and Twitter) and blogs. ASAS is an advisory council under the Consumer Association of Singapore ("CASE") that promotes ethical advertising and acts as the self-regulatory body of the advertising industry. These guidelines will, amongst other things, specify that advertorials must be clearly marked as advertising, and discourage advertisers from buying fake Facebook "likes". ASAS has invited key stakeholders in the social media advertising industry, including social media companies and established media owners, to be a part of drafting the guidelines. Comments The Singapore Code of Advertising Practice (the "SCAP"), produced by the ASAS, purports to apply to all concerned with advertising (including, advertisers, sales promoters, agencies, and the media) and to all advertisements, including digital communications on the Internet. Currently, the SCAP imposes an obligation "on all concerned with the preparation and/or publication of an advertisement to ensure that anyone who looks at the advertisement is able to see, without reading it closely, that it is an advertisement and not editorial matter". Furthermore, where paid-for space is in the style of a normal editorial, particular care should be taken to ensure that no part of it can be mistaken for normal editorial matter. As an example, it appears that having bloggers to complain about rival companies on their blogs, presenting such posts as editorial matter rather than paid content, is a violation of the SCAP. The ASAS is empowered to ask that advertisements contravening the SCAP be taken down with the assistance of media owners. Errant parties may also face adverse publicity, as the ASAS may publish the names of those who have offended against the SCAP. It is likely that the new guidelines for interactive advertising will set out more clearly how the SCAP applies to digital media advertising. For example, discouraging advertisers from buying fake Facebook "likes" would be an application of the current principle that advertisements "should not mislead in any way by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise". Advertising on the Internet will be easier to control where social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, social media networks such as Nuffnang, or advertising networks such as the Google Display Network are involved. For example, the Singapore High Court recently ruled that a Facebook page is owned by Facebook Inc, and not the person who set it up. ©2015 Baker & McKenzie. All rights reserved. Baker & McKenzie.Wong & Leow is a member of Baker & McKenzie International, a Swiss Verein with member law firms around the world. In accordance with the common terminology used in professional service organizations, reference to a “partner” means a person who is a partner, or equivalent, in such a law firm. Similarly, reference to an “office” means an office of any such law firm. This may qualify as “Attorney Advertising” requiring notice in some jurisdictions. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. This means that ASAS can seek the assistance of social media platforms to remove content on its pages where the advertisements are in contravention of the SCAP. However, advertisements beyond the ambit of such organizations will be significantly harder to police. On the Internet, it may be difficult to identify the person behind an advertisement and therefore, difficult to request that the advertisement be taken down. Also, unlike the newspapers, there is no overall "owner" of the Internet who can deprive a person of advertising space. Therefore, if the advertisements do not appear on a organized network or website with an owner who is willing to cooperate with ASAS, it would be difficult to enforce the SCAP against them.