The Advertising Standards Agency has today unveiled an extension to the advertising code, which it hopes will crackdown on misleading marketing messages posted on social networks, like Facebook and Twitter.

The new rules come after the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received 4,500 complaints with regards to online advertising since 2008, an area the ASA used to have little authority over - until September 2010.

The new rules offer up more stringent regulations, in that companies using social networks to spread marketing messages that aren't actually paid for can now be told to take any misleading messages offline.

The ASA will find it tricky, however, to uphold its new rulings. This is because it only has authority within the .co.uk remit, although it believes that it could soon push this to .com addresses in the future.

Name and shame

Speaking about the change of rules, Vincent-Wayne Mitchell, professor of consumer marketing at London's Cass Business School, said to the BBC: "I could have an advert up on the internet for a week or for an hour, cause widespread confusion, get sales from that, and then withdraw it.

"The only punishment that the ASA has is withdrawal, but I can have that as part of my own marketing strategy."

The ASA is hoping that it can also entice wrongdoers from taking misleading messages down with the use of a name-and-shame campaign.

This may come in the form of adverts on Google, explaining to users of the search engine that particular sites are telling porkies through their marketing boasts.

Via BBC