The Federal Trade Commission has recently passed an adoption of revised guidelines for bloggers and other forms of media advertisements. These new additions will become effective on December 1, 2009.
Why the new rules?
The FTC is worried that we, the American people, cannot figure out who is paid for a review or endorsement v. who is doing it out of the kindness of his/her heart. The review talks about celebrities being paid to promote products they never even use, and there is worry we might be duped into believing that the celebrity actually cares about the item he/she endorses. In the same way, there are many bloggers who receive free products to review, and if Johnny Moolah gets a free Xbox 360, we need to know about that before we read his stunning review (in which he may smarm up to the givers of such toys).
What does this mean for bloggers?
If you are paid to endorse a product, you must reveal that fact.
If you get a free book/product to review, you must disclose that.
If you simply review something you bought with your own money and want to tell the world how horrible/fantastic it was, you can do whatever you want.
“Endorsers also may be liable for statements made in the course of their
(This is only if you make claims about the product that are untrue, e.g. you will lose forty lbs. in two weeks with no exercise if you drink Disappear sodas.)
Is it all on me to disclose what I earn/get for free out of my review?
“The manufacturer should advise him (Johnny Moolah) at the time it provides the gaming system (or car or book etc.) that this connection should be disclosed, and it should have procedures in place to try to monitor his postings for compliance.”
Basically you have to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, even if you think your readers can’t handle the truth. You cannot claim that reading my collection of flash fiction made your hair grow, or that reading it in the restroom gave you rabies—stuff like that. 😀
“Endorsements must reflect the honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experience of the endorser.”
Isn’t this all a bit silly?
Well . . . yes, in my opinion. As school is mandatory, and every child is taught some kind of basic education, I can’t see how necessary this really is. With the clichéd “dumbing down of America,” perhaps we now need a whole load of newer laws to cover our newer levels of stupidity. And now, I will shut my mouth. 😉 (And no, I was not paid to do that, although all monetary offers to do so will be gratefully received.)