Oct

7

NEW Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Blogger Rules

by Migdalia Rivera

If you’re a blogger you’ve heard the news. The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”)  is setting guidelines for bloggers. Most bloggers are already adhering to the new rules, however, bloggers who were not must do so on or before December 1, 2009 to avoid sanctions and fines.

What does this mean to a Blogger?

  • You must disclose any freebies you receive for reviews and/or posts.
  • You must disclose any money received for reviews and/or posts.
  • Blogger must include the typical results someone would expect to get from the product they are reviewing, even if it differs from their own experience.
  • An atypical result, example, losing an extraordinary amount of weight with a diet pill or by playing the Wii, would require a “results not typical” clause in the post.
  • If a person buys a product with their own money and praises it on their personal blog, it is not considered an endorsement.

As of yet, a set format has not been mandated. The only stipulation appears to be that bloggers place a “clear and conspicuous” notice on their blog. Ethical bloggers already post such a disclosure on their blogs,  like the ones found on the bottom of my  “Advertise” and “Support Us” pages. They also note when products or money are received for review in their individual posts.

Those who are not in compliance must make sure to follow the new guidelines on or before December 1, 2009. Any blogger who does not comply can be sanctioned and/or fined (up to $11,000 PER post!).  The FTC has also stated that it will review each infringement on a case by case basis.  Since the regulation is new, bloggers who do not adhere to these guidelines will most likely be given a warning before a fine is assessed.

If you’re a blogger or social media fiend, as I am, how do you feel about this? Let me know!

 

Click HERE to read the FTC guidelines in its entirety.

Click HERE for a brief synopsis from the FTC.

 

Psst this blog post is NOT a paid endorsement and I have NOT received any freebies to share this tidbit! Hey I figured I better play it safe right? ;)

UPDATE: While attending the Blogalicious 2009 convention, I learned that  free products given to a blogger do NOT have to be returned. Its a false rumor!

About the Author

Migdalia Rivera, also known as Ms. Latina in social media, is a single Latina mother of a teen, tween and 2 Australian Shepherds. When not blogging, or chasing after her energetic bunch, she connects influential bloggers with brands and PR agencies via her blogger network, Stiletto Media.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lonestarr October 8, 2009 at 12:36 am

It isn’t entirely without merit I guess, but it still kinda wreaks of government being all busybody personal life invasive. And judging by the horrendous track record, they aren’t going to be capable of handling this competently and it will ultimately cause considerably more problems than it fixes. It is what it is, unfortunately. :/

2 Ms. Latina October 8, 2009 at 8:17 am

@Lonestarr: It just seems so arbitrary. They aren’t imposing these sanctions/fines on reporters or companies.

Based on their guidelines, a NYT reporter can receive FREE tickets for a movie review and not disclose the freebie, because in the governments eyes the recipient is NYT, not the reporter, and NYT is not fined if the reporter does not disclose! Go figure!

3 Jo Ann Hernandez October 8, 2009 at 11:19 am

For me this is all confusing. I’m glad to have friends like you that take the time to explain these kind of things for me. The way I understand is that you have to say who send you the book you are reviewing. I’m into books so that’s all i’m thinking about. however I have read that after you read the book you have to send it back to the person or company that sent it to you. Get that? you have to spend money to send the free book back or you will be in volivation. no way Jose! that is so dumb. but what do I know?
Jo Ann

4 Ms. Latina October 8, 2009 at 11:27 am

@Jo Ann I heard the same thing. You may have to ask the publishers to send you a self addressed stamped envelope with the book(s) or to provide you with their FedEx/UPS billing number. It def. should NOT come out of your pocket, esp. since bloggers do not get paid for reviews. We normally do it because we enjoy it, have a passion for the products and want to share with our community!

UPDATE: While attending the Blogalicious 2009 convention, I learned that free products do NOT have to be returned. It is a false rumor!

5 Maria October 8, 2009 at 4:45 pm

Wow thanks for the info. It’s kind of irritating to me because I feel like they’re telling me how to blog in my own blog. I’m always honest and up front with all of my posts but I’m not going to be putting disclaimers and what not. Screw them.

(lil feisty today sorry lol)

6 Lonestarr October 9, 2009 at 12:14 pm

“It isn’t entirely without merit I guess”

Wow, what was I thinking when I said that? Seriously dumb. I guess I just wanted to think there was some potential use for this, but my willing suspension of disbelief only stretches so far, and now that I’m being honest with myself & thinking critically about this, Ms. L, I have to say that this is completely & fatally flawed, on the blogger level at least.

Really, the simple fact that 99% of blogs have very limited reach and have to be absolutely honest in these matters just to get and keep readers pretty much kills the entire premise right out of the gate. Those who don’t disclose their sponsorships & stuff eventually get figured out and ripped severely for it (seen it happen, though the blogger in question did regain their popularity and then some once they proved unbiased in their reviews).

That honesty is sorta inherently required for the success of product review-type blogs is what I didn’t consider at first when I kept trying to tell myself it wasn’t an absolute failure to begin with, I think. It basically destroys any reason to think there is merit in requiring disclaimers & whatnot at the risk of massive fines. The vast majority already adequately disclose their connections, and those who don’t catch hell for it when they get found out. Crippling fines and FTC oversight are so not needed or welcome.

Rant mode off.

Being honest with one’s self is good for the soul. I feel better now. :)

7 Michele P. October 11, 2009 at 12:22 am

I don’t do tons of reviews, but it still stinks that there are rules like this now… it seems every where you look the govt is cracking the whip someplace. where I live, it is illegal to talk on cell phone while driving, eat while driving, use a GPS (um, what about cars that have it built in lol) I really think they should focus on fixing the economy and stop spending money foolishly before passing stupid laws that only serve to get more money for the govt. by imposing fines… that being said, I don’t think ANYONE should be texting while driving, but talking…geez, next thing you know they will fine you for talking to the person next to you.

8 Romina November 11, 2009 at 10:32 pm

wowww no estaba enterada de esto, aunque sospechaba que algo habia ocurrido, cuando empece a ver los disclaimer, en los blogs, yo soy nueva en este mundo, mi blog solo tiene 2 meses.
Muchas gracias por la informacion.

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