Social Media Precautions — Part Two

A few weeks ago, we talked about the TTB and its updated social media requirements. Today we’ll finish the discussion.
If a winery maintains a blog about itself and discusses its products, events, and whatnot, it too is considered to be advertising under the TTB’s regulations. Blogs, therefore, must likewise contain mandatory statements.
Microblogs, on the other hand, are a bit different. Microblogs such as twitter or Tumblr are by their very nature sentence fragments and symbols to promote thoughts or services. The TTB recognizes that the micrologs are social media and therefore subject to the regulations discussed here, but need not be contained in every microblog post. Instead, the mandatory statements must appear somewhere that is conspicuous and readily legible — for example, on the microblog profile page. Although a single microblog post need not contain mandatory statements, it must nonetheless refrain from prohibited practices. (No “My beer cures cancer” tweets!)
Social media can connect but also violate the law, in the wrong hands

Social media can connect but also violate the law, in the wrong hands

The TTB even took a line on apps. You guessed it — apps are social media — but, because they are downloaded to a mobile device, the TTB also considers them a “consumer specialty advertisement,” or an item that is designed “to be carried away by the consumer, such as trading stamps, nonalcoholic mixers, pouring racks, ash trays, bottle or can openers, cork screws, shopping bags, matches, printed recipes, pamphlets, cards, leaflets, blotters, post cards, pencils, shirts, caps, and visors.” As such, the only mandatory statement must be the company name or brand name of the product.
Finally, QR codes (“quick response codes” are those boxy squares that convey information when scanned by a mobile device). The regulations covered above apply to the final destination of the QR code — mandatory statements will apply and the advertisements should not contain prohibited statements.
If you are stumped whether your nontraditional social media falls under these regulations, call me, the Winemakers’ Lawyer, for some traditional legal advice.
Foto kindly donated by Big Foto.