Before a website goes live, website operators should have a legal notice in place, also called an “Impressum”. Most internet pages also require a provider identification. Depending on the industry and the contents of the website, special information must be provided. Otherwise, warnings and fines may be issued.Impressum law: What you need to know about special website credits
Facebook’s recent addition of an ‘Impressum’ field to their pages is a valuable resource for business owners, enabling them to integrate a site notice into their social media platform. While supplying further contact details can be of immense help to all businesses, this extra text field is particularly helpful to those with offices in German-speaking countries, where providing this information is required by law. In Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, failing to include an impressum could result in disciplinary action. This has caused significant problems for some companies in the past, prompting Facebook to finally introduce the ‘Impressum’ text field in 2014, which was specially designed to cater to these laws, giving all users a simple and legally watertight area to include all the required information.
Impressum laws for business pages
In the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, impressums (more commonly referred to as site notices, legal notices, or mastheads) are optional and rarely implemented, but every website for businesses based in German-speaking countries requires an impressum. The German Telemedia Act (TMG) specifies exactly which information should be included and how it can be presented. The obligation to provide identification applies to all ‘business-orientated’ online presences, except for purely private pages. Not all business owners are aware that this law also concerns social media presences, but even on Facebook, businesses are legally obliged to present their contact information in a manner that is ‘easily visible, directly accessible, and always available’ to users.
Check out our guidebook for further information on impressum laws.
For many years, there was no designated space for business owners to include an impressum in their Facebook profiles, which often restricted the visibility of that information. The platform finally amended this in 2014 by integrating a text field for impressums for all users who wish or need to include one. This can be found under ‘Page Info’ alongside all other crucial text fields. The impressum section allows users 2000 characters for entering the required data. If the text is too long, it will be shortened and a link to the complete impressum will be added. This text field is now provided for all business-orientated profiles and pages.
Integrating an impressum into your Facebook page – step by step
With the impressum section, users can now integrate an impressum into their Facebook pages in just a few easy steps. Here’s how it works:
- Go to ‘About’ on your Facebook page
- Navigate to ‘Page Info’ for a clear overview of all profile information (i.e. name, address, description)
- Scroll down to ‘Impressum’ and click ‘Input Impressum for your Page’
- Enter the identification data required by law
- Click ‘Save Changes’
If you need help creating an impressum for your Facebook page, you can use one of the Facebook impressum generators or templates that are available online. Many law firms and legal services also offer free tools or templates for Facebook impressums.
The alternative: add a link to your impressum
Because of the limited space in Facebook’s impressum text box, it’s now become common practice to add an external link to the impressum page of your business website. If you decide to go down this route, you should link directly to your impressum, and not just to the website’s homepage. Additionally, it’s important to indicate clearly that the link leads to the impressum; links should therefore always be named and labelled clearly to ensure visibility and accessibility. You could also include a relevant anchor text, appropriate URL, and/or an explanatory note.
The impressum itself should also include a note that the same information applies to all your social media platforms, and provide links to these sites (including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.).
Respecting current impressum laws
With the integrated fields, it’s now easy for Facebook page operators to create a Facebook impressum in compliance with current laws. However, it’s important for business owners to stay aware of current legislation as well as any possible changes. Please note that this article does not constitute as legal advice; should you need further aid, we recommend you seek the help of an experienced attorney.