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?


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 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.


  • 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.


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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Legal Problems of Social Networks

by Fred Abramson on February 12, 2009 · 3 comments

You are probably using social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Linked in for a variety of purposes, from updating your status, to networking with college friends that leads to new business.  Although the law on social networks is evolving, there are several issues that you need to be aware of to protect yourself legally.  Listed below are 5 issues that you need to be aware of regarding the legal problems of social networks.

1.    Privacy:

Some information that you provide on social networks are available to the general public, such as the name of your employer and photographs. As a result, any claim of a right to privacy to any material posted on social networking sites may be lost.

2.    Identity Theft:

Social networks contain a treasure trove of personal information.  For instance, my Blackberry was recently stolen and the thieves were able to hack into my Facebook account. The information gleaned from the site, such as date of birth, mother’s name and hometown could have been used by a thief to steal my identity.

3.    Potential use in litigation:

Such personal information can be obtained by legal adversaries and may be exploited if you are ever involved in a lawsuit. Before posting, think about how any information can be used against you

4.    Defamation:

Social Networking sites do not provide immunity from defamation laws. Expressing your views about Britney Spears may be fine, but watch out for any defamatory comments that you make regarding anyone else.

5.    Intellectual Property:

There are no special laws shielding users of social networks from trademark and copyright laws.