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Social Media and the Government

by Nicole Rose Dion  |  
July 31, 2013

We all knew that one day the government would catch up with this thing called "social media." It was only a matter of time.

Advertising as we know it has been around since the 19th century, so it makes sense that the government heavily regulates that industry. For example, any tobacco advertisement must have the "THIS PRODUCT MAY CAUSE HEALTH PROBLEMS" statement, which has changed over the years and has been much debated. The same with alcohol and drugs.

The Internet has been around only since the mid-1900s, and the government has caught up with it in terms of regulating alcohol and tobacco. On the Web, alcoholic beverage and tobacco sites make you "confirm your age" before you enter them. As if that matters: anyone can lie about their age online. Regardless, such sites are required to put in that extra step to deter minors from visiting their websites.

What about social media? Social sites have really been around only for the last 10-20 years, depending on what you think is social media and what isn't. Marketers immediately started using social media because, in most cases, it's free and it's where people (marketers' current and potential clientele) are spending their time.

But social media is different from traditional advertising in that you don't have to (usually) pay for your space. So it's somewhat surprising that the TTB, FDA, and FTC are starting to consider it a type of advertising.

What are the TTB, FDA, and FTC?

The TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau)

The TTB ensures that the "government warning" is on all wine labels and beer bottles. It tells you how large the text must be, where it must be placed, which state and country it originated from, and on what date it was produced.

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Nicole Rose Dion is the director of digital communications at The Abbi Agency, where she oversees all design and social media projects. Read her blog posts at The Abbi Agency Blog.

Twitter: @nicolerosedion

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  • by Gracious Store Wed Jul 31, 2013 via web

    What will the government achieve "by catching up" social media. The only reason why the government will step into media is only if people start using it to brake laws and commit illegals acts. Other than that why should government be interested in the tweets and re-tweets in tweeter, or status updates in Facebook and so on?

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