ftc_logoThe Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines for bloggers regarding disclosure of “material connections” to companies take effect today.

Back in October we wrote up the news and questions about the new FTC guidelines for bloggers that were coming into being, and today is the fateful day those take effect.  Sadly the questions we put forth in that original post have still not been answered, but no matter, you have to begin disclosing all relationships with blog post subjects today.

Actually, let me rephrase that: If you interact anywhere online, you must disclose any relationships you have with the subject or face the possibility of fines up to $11,000.  This includes becoming a fan of a company on Facebook, talking about them on Twitter, sharing a link to their site and even having verbal communications with people on the street.  You can read the full guidelines from the FTC (PDF link) for yourself, but essentially if you talk to anyone in any way about a company or product, you must disclose your relationship to them.

The problem is, as I have written about endlessly on my personal blog, is that the FTC has done nothing to tell us what form these disclosures must take.  Can we make one post and just continually link to it?  Must we put it at the end of each post?  Must we update old posts?  No one knows, and the FTC isn’t saying.

If you have a blog, and anyone pays you in any way, or gives you a product for review, you must add a disclosure to the end of the post for now just to be safe.  Personally I feel this will end up in court, and I feel the FTC is going to discover the rules are not clear enough, and that they are possibly over reaching.  Until further notice, just be careful and try to make sure you keep your nose clean unless you really want to be the test case for these guidelines.

Categories: News, Opinion   
 

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