Legal compliance instructions

IMPORTANT legal instructions

All election material “that can reasonably be regarded as intended to influence voters to vote for or against a political party or a category of candidates” must carry what is called an imprint. Here is an example of an imprint for a Facebook page:

Promoted by: John Smith, 123 Acacia Avenue, London, W5 8HJ.

While this law obviously predates the social media age, and you don’t exactly see an imprint on every election meme on Facebook or Twitter, the Electoral Commission confirm that the law does apply. If you are taking paid advertising on Facebook to reach thousands of people who wouldn’t “naturally” see that post, we strongly recommend taking the following one easy step to definite legal compliance.

Here’s the inconvenient bit…

If you are placing paid ads on Facebook, you are the promoter of those ads. This means that somewhere on your Facebook presence or on something linked to it, you have to provide your name with a postal address through which you can be contactedThis is the law.

However, this can be a “home or office address“. The intention is, to quote the Electoral Commission, “to ensure that there is transparency about who is campaigning… There is no requirement for an imprint address to be a home address, as long as it is somewhere the person can be contacted. It could for example, be an office address.”

Not got an office? Don’t want to use your home address?

What other addresses do you have where you “can be contacted”? There is no legal definition in the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 of an “address”. So it doesn’t need to be somewhere you normally receive post. Clearly, it does need to be somewhere you can genuinely be traced through, in the unlikely event of the Electoral Commission investigating your flyers. This means somewhere the people answering an enquiry at the address you’ve given know you and have your details, or can look you up. Don’t give the address of somewhere where they’ve never heard of you! Here are some ideas…

  • A PO Box you own or access [see confirmation this is legal]
  • Your university, college or school address
  • Address of a community centre you’re involved with
  • Address of a trade union office you’re involved with
  • Address of a club you belong to (obviously not if that’s someone else’s home address!)
  • Address of a campaign group you’re involved with (ditto)

If you’re putting a group’s address, you should omit the name of the group, unless you’re acting on behalf of the group with its full agreement. Just give the street address where an official enquiry could (in theory) be made about you.

It is our understanding that that’s enough to comply with the law. The Electoral Commission run an advice line on 0333 103 1928.

How to add your imprint on Facebook

You can bury the name and address in the ‘About’ section of your Facebook page. To do this:

  1. On your Facebook page, click on About in the menu underneath your page’s name.
  2. Move the pointer to the Story section of this page (right-hand side) and the click on Edit.
  3. Type in the imprint at the bottom of this section and click Save.

Or, if you also create a website (or just one webpage) associated with your campaign, you can place your imprint there instead, and just provide the weblink to this page in your Facebook page’s ‘About’ section.