The Federal Trade Commission just released rules to regulate product endorsements not just in advertisements but also on blogs. (PDF here; the regs don’t start until page 55.)
The FTC has dropped the ball on this one.
They want to listen in to conversations on the Internets and fine folks for not disclosing hidden beneficial relationships.
Not newspapers, not TV. They can keep being bought and paid for by the people who want to influence them. Move along, nothing to see here.
And the FTC will not hunt down the big boys with their huge budgets and team of lawyers, and even if they do it will be like a nat biting a rhino’s butt.
But you know that mommy blogger who received a pack of diapers three years ago from Pampers? She might get fined $11k for mentioning that she used one yesterday to mop up an accident and how absorbant it was.
IE. The only people who will be worried about the FTC hunting them down are the innocent, unsophisticated, small, american bloggers.
Yay, go team!
Think I am exaggerating? You read the PDF here and tell me. IANAL, heck I can never understand any legalese, but it seems the field is wide open for anyone with a grudge to find something to beat you with in there if they try hard enough.
Here is why it will not work
Most of us already use disclosures. Either a catch-all or specific.
I might put extra links into my sidebar and footer.
Fact is, it doesn’t matter what disclosure or disclaimers you make. Your visitors will either trust you or they will not. The FTC is not going to be able to change any of that for the better no matter how hard they try.