Back in October, the Federal Trade Commission published a set of “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” The FTC Guidelines call for bloggers, Tweeters, Facebook users, and certain other
online publishers to disclose any “material connections” they have with
companies whose products or services they endorse. The FTC Guidelines, which went into effect on December 1, 2009, also
say that bloggers and other social media users may be held liable for making misleading or unsubstantiated claims about a product or service.
Not surprisingly, the FTC Guidelines generated a bit of an uproar. While some of the
criticisms are well founded, there also are plenty of
misunderstandings and exaggerations about what the Guidelines say.
In order to address
some of these misunderstandings, yesterday the Citizen Media Law Project published a guide to the FTC Guidelines, entitled Publishing Product or Service Endorsements, that explains what types of publishing activities are covered by
the Guidelines, what constitutes a product or service “endorsement,”
and how to go about disclosing a relationship. Our new guide also looks at recent public statements from FTC
staff suggesting that the agency is interested in educating rather than
suing bloggers and social media users.