The Federal Trade Commission guidelines covering endorsements and testimonials went into effect on December 1, 2009. How they will be enforced in real life against website owners and bloggers won’t fully be clarified for years as the FTC and the courts make decisions on a case-by-case basis.
Fortunately, the Federal Trade Commission did act on April 20, 2010 in a case involving bloggers who received gifts. What happened is that some bloggers who wrote about a certain event held by a women’s clothing store chain received small gifts.
Because of this compensation, the Federal Trade Commission investigated. Here’s the key sentence from the FTC to the chain’s lawyer…
“Depending on the circumstances, an advertiser’s provision of a gift to a blogger for posting blog content about an event could constitute a material connection that is not reasonably expected by readers of the blog.”
In this case, the Federal Trade Commission decided not to penalize the store chain. Several factors for this decision were (a) some of the bloggers did disclose they had received gifts, (b) not many bloggers participated, (c) the company created a written policy in February that required bloggers to disclose on their blogs any gifts they received from the company.
Here’s the important thing to remember. The FTC’s attorney made it clear that the Federal Trade Commission expected the company to (1) obey this written policy of requiring gift disclosure, and (2) monitor bloggers to ensure they complied with the policy by disclosing the gifts.
Material connections that must be disclosed can include many things in addition to gifts. For example, promoting as an affiliate in exchange for commissions would be a material connection.
Note that the Website Legal Forms Generator software was updated (Version 2.0) based on these new Federal Trade Commission guidelines and includes a disclosure policy. To claim your copy, click here right now.