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The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau recently unveiled new guidelines for how wineries, distilleries and breweries can market themselves and their products on social media, making the formal distinction that all activity on social media for such businesses is a form of advertising and thus subject to oversight.

While the decision didn’t surprise legal experts or most businesses already using such platforms for promotion, the new guidelines do mean that alcohol-producing businesses -- especially smaller, startup companies -- should take careful note to make sure they are in compliance to avoid potential fines for errant activity, attorneys in the North Bay said.

“What they’re saying now is all social media is advertising. That’s the fundamental decision, and so then you need to know what the regulations are,” said Jay Behmke, a partner at Santa Rosa-based Carle, Mackie, Power & Ross who focuses on alcoholic beverage law.

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