FTC Getting Serious About Full Disclosure in Endorsements


The Federal Trade Commission is taking steps to show that it is quite serious about enforcing the so-called blogger disclosure rules that it issued last year.

The rules say, essentially, that when someone endorses or reviews a product or service, the person must disclose any relationship with the company that produces the product. So if a blogger gets a free item from a manufacturer, the blogger has to say so in his or her review. The idea is that consumers would want to know if the objectivity of a review is tainted in any way.

This type of problem occurs frequently in affiliate marketing, since the affiliates of a manufacturer can discuss the manufacturer’s products in their blogs. This would be a relationship that would have to be disclosed.

But the rule isn’t limited to bloggers or affiliates. The commission just served notice that public relations and marketing firms are squarely in its focus. What if a PR firm’s employees are endorsing their clients’ products without disclosing that they are, essentially, being paid to do so?

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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