While the entertainment world is talking about Charlie Sheen’s posts on Twitter, another celebrity’s Twitter posts are getting attention in the legal world. This week, Courtney Love agreed to pay more than $430,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by fashion designer Dawn Simorangkir. In a series of tweets, Love had accused Simorangkir of theft and of having a criminal background. The case had been scheduled to go to trial in February, and was expected to be the first trial to explore whether a celebrity’s Twitter posts could be considered libel.
Putting aside the drama of the lawsuit, this case holds at least one important lesson for marketers. Although there is a tendency to think that traditional laws don’t apply in more casual and fast-paced world of social media, that’s clearly not true. Statements made in social media are subject to the same laws as statements that are published in traditional media. Among other things, that means that what marketers say must be true. Indeed, both the FTC and the NAD have held that content in social media is subject to traditional truth in advertising requirements.
Accordingly, advertisers should take the same care when they post on their Facebook pages or tweet, as when they place an ad in traditional media.