Social Media Law

The law on social media marketing – part 3

The internet offers businesses huge potential to foster their advertising and image strategies for low financial outlay. It is therefore hardly surprising that many German businesses maintain online profiles to keep their brand fresh.

The law on social media marketing - legal notices © Kaarsten – Fotolia.de

The law on social media marketing – legal notices © Kaarsten – fotolia.de

The law on social media marketing

Whether businesses use Facebook fan pages, blogs or Twitter, the possibilities are limitless. Or are they?

This series presents an overview of the steps which businesses can take to ensure their social media marketing strategies remain legal.

Part 3 – Legal notices

So small and yet so important! Online businesses wishing to boost their social media marketing presence are often at high risk of receiving warning letters for providing incorrect information in the legal notices section on their websites.

It is now well established by case law that commercial social network pages are subject to the requirements to provide legal notices, also commonly known as “about us” sections on their websites (Lg Aschafffenburg, judgment from 19.08.2011, Az. 2 HK O 54/11; LG Frankfurt, decision from 19.10.2011, Az. 3-08 O 136/11).

Excluded from legal notices obligations

Only those profiles which are for personal or family use are excluded from the obligation to have legal notices.

Commercial Facebook fan pages, for example, generally do not benefit from this exception, as the profile is not for individual use. Even private individuals who offer services such as tuition, require a legal notices section.

Where should the legal notices section be displayed?

According to Germany’s Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof, BGH), legal notices must be accessible within two links and be easily recognisable on a website. It is therefore not a requirement that all information contained in the legal notices section be present on the fan page itself.

Easily recognisable

The regional court of Aschaffenburg took the view that legal notices are not easily recognisable where they are published under the heading “information”.

Most notably, the legal commentary takes the view that headings such as “contact”, “about us” and “the business” are too vague to be clearly recognisable (see Woitke, NJW 2003, 871, 872).

The best option therefore seems to be to include such information under the heading “legal notices”.

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Christian Solmecke is a partner at the law firm WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE. He is the author of numerous legal publications in the area of internet and IT law. He is also an associate lecturer for social media law at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

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