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Finland in Northern Europe has recently passed a law that will require all restaurants, nightclubs and cafés on Facebook to remove any comments promoting or even mentioning beer or other types of alcohol on their Facebook page. Starting in 2015, this new regulation will accompany existing regulations on alcohol advertising.

Comments on a restaurant’s Facebook page for example stating; “I really enjoyed your beer” or “This place has the best beers” are to be removed by the company. Companies must also make sure commenters don’t share pictures of alcohol on the company’s Facebook page or share the company page’s posts containing mentions of alcohol.

The idea is that companies are no longer allowed to use comments by consumers in their alcohol advertising. If a company’s social media account is being used for advertising purposes, the whole page (including the comments) are considered as part of the company’s advertising campaign. Therefore, it’s on the company’s responsibility to make sure their whole page compiles with advertising regulations (also the comments).

Restaurants and breweries are expressing concerns that they can’t afford hiring additional employees in order to moderate their Facebook pages in-house. It’s currently also unspecified how quickly the law will require businesses to remove unlawful comments. Companies fear that they will need to pay extra compensations for employees to check their brand pages also during weekends and holidays. Hiring a moderation agency to take care of the moderation will probably prove to be the most efficient and affordable option.

Time will tell how this new law will be applied in Finland. In Australia, Diageo has earlier on experienced legal trouble for not having removed sexist comments from Smirnoff’s Facebook page. Finland is not the first country to tackle this subject by law. Most certainly not the last either.

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