Blogging and the FTC

March 2, 2010

Whether you are an amateur blogger or a professional blogging for a company you need to clearly understand the FTC‘s rules for bloggers or suffer the consequences.Like up to $11,000 in fines!

Scary? Well it’s supposed to be, but quite honestly if you abide by good old common sense and treat people honestly in the first place this probably won’t be that big of an issue.

That said I’m not a lawyer, so downloading the rules and reading them for yourself is a very good idea! Here’s a link to the code FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION 16 CFR part 255 (PDF)

Here’s a quick summary of the high points

  • If you blog about a product that was given to you to review, you are an affiliate for or you are paid to review in any way you must disclose that information clearly. This includes but is not limited to: ad revenue, testimonials for individuals or products, banner ads for the product “conveniently near” the post you wrote.
  • If your blog is sponsored by anyone you must divulge this clearly. No writing about laundry when your sponsor is, say… Clorox, without divulging that fact.
  • If you are in any way compensated by the company or parent company of a product you write about. You must disclose it where the reader can clearly see it.

Really when you think about it this isn’t as big a deal as it sounds. It may mean the days of free swag are gone, but then again probably not. Magazines and newspapers have been dealing with this for years as have TV and radio. If we want blogging to be recognized as a professional industry we should be happy to be categorized with the rest of the publication industry.

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