FTC: Bloggers must disclose paid reviews or be fined USD $11,000
The FTC has finally dropped the hammer on paid reviews. This finally settles the long debate about blogging and ethics. Whereas before it was all about your moral code, today it is now a legal mandate. Bloggers, according to the Federal Trade Commission should have full disclosure for doing paid reviews, or suffer consequences.
Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service. Likewise, if a company refers in an advertisement to the findings of a research organization that conducted research sponsored by the company, the advertisement must disclose the connection between the advertiser and the research organization. And a paid endorsement – like any other advertisement – is deceptive if it makes false or misleading claims.
Interestingly enough, the “consequences” may actually be paid by the advertiser:
To placate such fears, Cleland said the FTC will more likely go after an advertiser instead of a blogger for violations. The exception would be a blogger who runs a “substantial” operation that violates FTC rules and already received a warning, he said.
So what this really means: there’s nothing to be worried about if you’ve been a good boy.
Jayvee Fernandez has done his rounds in blog postings. He served as Technology Channel Editor for b5Media Inc and has founded the leading blog advertising and word of mouth network called BlogBank in the Philippines. And now, he's gone full circle, landing back with The Blog Herald, the resource that gave him his first blogging job in 2005.
So basically any paid reviews that bloggers write and get paid for from today (10/9/2009) on, you have to disclose that this post is paid, something along the lines of putting a disclaimer at the bottom saying this is a paid review.
Well we knew this was coming, now I wonder about paid links inside posts, on the sidebar and affiliate program links?
I’ve written numerous reviews and have numerous more lined up. I’m always honest about the fact I’ve received samples and I openly thank the company who has sponsored the review/contest. I truly see absolutely no reason to hide the fact a company sends me samples to review. It doesn’t make sense to me. I’ve written positive reviews but the only things I’ve found in the products I’ve reviewed so far is a) readers may not enjoy the taste and b) the price may not be feasible for everyone’s budget. I mention those things when I feel like they apply. I haven’t reviewed anything that’s horrid yet. If I do, I’ll share that.