FTC – Bloggers Liable for Endorsements and Misleading or Unsubstantiated Representations

October 8, 2009 at 2:27 pm Leave a comment

The Federal Trade Commission this week released new Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.  Since I am a strong and vehement advocate for authentic and genuine participation/interaction on the social web, allow me to provide my spin on how we might simplify our understanding of the 81 page FTC document:

  • If you get PAID to SAY, then you must SAY you got PAID.
  • If you CLAIM RESULTS, it better be TRUE.

Here is a verbatim breakdown of the FTC Office of Public Affairs release (10/5/09) as it relates to bloggers:

1)  The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that “material connections” (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other “word-of-mouth” marketers.

2)  The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.

3)   A  paid endorsement – like any other advertisement – is deceptive if it makes false or misleading claims.

Let’s all work to preserve the integrity in the appropriate use of social media, within which resides immense possibilities for a more meaningful world.  Since I’m not a lawyer, I encourage you to consult a lawyer or legal counsel for advice or a complete interpretation of the  complete 81 pages of text.

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Entry filed under: Social Media, Web 2.0 and Beyond. Tags: , , , , , , .

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