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BizReport : Social Marketing : May 25, 2011

Pharmaceuticals lose whitelisting ability on Facebook

A recent policy change has left pharmaceutical companies with a Facebook presence with no option but to allow comments on their Pages.

by Helen Leggatt

facebook logo.gifFacebook's pharmaceutical clients have long had the ability to disable comments on their Facebook Page walls. Called "whitelisting", it allows companies to better control content on their Pages to keep it in line with FDA restrictions and requirements.

It is these very restrictions and requirements that make social media an online minefield for pharmaceutical companies. For example, the instant off-label use is brought up in a forum supported or owned by a pharmaceutical company, that company becomes liable for off-label promotion which could lead to huge fines by the FDA.

Facebook's announcement that they will be withdrawing the ability for pharmaceutical companies with non-brand-specific pages to disable user comments may cause some to reconsider their social interaction altogether. Those who remain in the social space will need to carefully monitor and manage Page activity.

"It's a hassle," Wendy Blackburn, EVP at InTouch Solutions told MM&A. "It's a lot to manage. I think some companies that haven't fully embraced Facebook, it'll be easy for them to say 'never mind,' but for those that have seen the benefit of it and fought those fights internally, they'll find a way to make it work, whether that's an app to manage the wall for them or doing a more 24/7 open monitoring approach, and from our clients, we've heard a mix."

The policy change comes into effect immediately for new Pages and will be rolled out to all Pages in August. The policy change, said Facebook, "supports consistency for the Facebook Pages product and encourages an authentic dialogue between people and business on Facebook."

Tags: Facebook, pharmaceutical, regulation, social media, social media strategy, social network

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