TTB declares wine industry social media to be advertising & announces regulation

From the annals of oenography…

ttb offices

Above: The facade of the TTB offices on G Street in Washington, D.C. (image via Google Maps).

Earlier this week, the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau issued a circular laying out guidelines for regulation of wine industry-generated social media.

The move is significant in part because the document clearly states that the agency considers wine industry-generated social media — social networks, video sharing, blogs, microblogs, etc. — to be a form of advertising. And as such, it will be regulated by the TTB.

I found this informative post by a Napa law firm in which the authors spell out the impact that this policy will have on wine industry members who use social media in promoting their brands.

The authors of the post also point out that according to TTB policy, content posted by consumers on wine industry social media is also subject to regulation. Ultimately, this could lead to wine industry members being held responsible for questionable content posted by users of their platforms.

[See the comment section for a clarification on this last point.]

2 thoughts on “TTB declares wine industry social media to be advertising & announces regulation

  1. Jeremy –

    Glad you enjoyed the blog post on the new TTB guidelines. To clarify, the TTB does not appear to consider user comments on an industry member’s Facebook page to be the responsibility of the industry member. As we stated:

    “[I]ndustry members that maintain a social network presence, such as a Facebook fan page, are responsible for content that they post, but the advisory seems to carve out posts by consumers on industry member sites or pages. For example, in discussing social networks, the circular states: “TTB considers fan pages for alcohol beverage products or companies and any content regarding alcohol beverage products posted to the pages by the industry member to …[be] subject to the provisions of the FAA Act and TTB regulations.” By focusing on content “posted to the pages by the industry members,” the TTB apparently recognized that alcohol beverage companies should not be held responsible should a “fan” post a comment that violates federal regulations.

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