FTC Rules for Bloggers governing testimonials

by Fred Abramson on November 9, 2009 · 0 comments

In early October, the FTC published its guidelines governing testimonials. The main purpose of these new guidelines is to protect the public from hidden endorsements.

Many bloggers are paid by advertisers to write about a product.  If you are a tech blogger and you were handed a shiny Droid phone by Verizon to blog about its new camera, you are now required to disclose that relationship.  The new guidelines  have  teeth, with fines of up to $11,000 for not disclosing payments. How are bloggers and advertisers able to protect themselves from an unwanted legal action?

ADVERTISERS AND BLOGGERS NEED A WRITTEN AGREEMENT

If you are an advertiser and you pay bloggers to review and report on your product and services, you must develop an agreement with the blogger that mirrors the guidelines of the FTC rules.  The agreement should:

  • Prohibit them from  against making baseless claims about the service or product;
  • Require the blogger to disclose the connection between the advertiser and the blog owner. A tech blogger must disclose in its review of the Droid smartphone that it received the Droid for free.

THE ADVERTISER MUST MONITOR THE WORK OF THE BLOGGER

  • The advertiser should also set up a Google Alert,  follow the blogger on all social media and constantly review the blog posts to make sure that the blogger complies with the FTC rules.

MONITOR YOUR EMPLOYEES

  • A company is also responsible for what their employees disseminate on social media.   Companies must have their employees disclose that they work for them in any reviews.  You can also prohibit your employees from reviewing any of your products.

BE TRUTHFUL

This may appear obvious, but both bloggers and advertisers now have an affirmative duty not to mislead or make a statement about the product that his untrue. Bloggers now have to perform due diligence about the product before posting.  Bloggers now must review the product in an unbiased manner.

What do you think of the new FTC rules?  Are they necessary?  How do you think they will be enforced?

The Law Office of Frederic R. Abramson drafts agreements between bloggers and advertisers.  For more information, contact me at 212-233-0666

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