I had a very useful email from Wellsphere explaining the new rules for bloggers in the light of the USA Federal Trade Commission guidelines in effect from December 1st. The Guidelines are as follows:
* The Guidelines apply to Bloggers and online word-of-mouth marketers and require them to disclose any material connection to a company when reviewing the company’s products or services (failure to disclose any payment or receipt of free product from an advertiser or someone acting on their behalf could expose you to liability);
· Both advertisers and endorsers can be liable for false or unsubstantiated claims made in an endorsement (if you were given a product for free or were paid to write a review, then the claims you make about the product must be accurate and substantiated);
· Advertisements containing consumer endorsements, or testimonials, must disclose what results a reasonable consumer could expect from the product and can no longer rely on a disclaimer that “results may vary”.
While there is still some confusion about how this applies to UK bloggers, it’s as well to know what is going on in the wider world of blogging and you may want to use disclaimers on your blog as a belt and braces measure.
All products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated. Affiliate links may be used. Posts are not affiliate driven.
As a UK blogger I am interested to see if this is legally required of us as well. However, in order to prevent a lot of hassle, I am planning on simply continuing with what I already do. If I got it for free, I say so. Simple.
We start each post with a disclosure if we didn’t buy the product being reviewed ourselves. I believe that’s the only way of being totally fair.
Fundamentally, blogs are different to magazines in that blogs are often perceived as written by consumers, for consumers. So I think it’s fair to require that free products are acknowledged; some originally consumer led blogs have become nothing more than advertising sites now. As a reader I’d much rather know which ones remain consumer based, and which ones are mostly marketing.
Disclosure helps that distinction, in my mind, particularly when the reader doesn’t have personal trust in the blogger.
Full disclosure should be done by everyone anyway. I originally turned online to read what other people (read: other consumers) think about a product I’m interested in. So I wouldn’t like to be misled by dishonest people “pretending” to be non-bias consumers. Those people would loose respect from others anyway if they’re being found out somehow or another….
I agree with the other comments that we should always disclose anyway, however I was intereseted to be told the other day that the rules do not just apply to US bloggers. they apply to blogs or any material that can be read in the USA – This therefore means that all online material is subject to this law. Once again, the USA puts the rest of the world in its place…
this is good to know, but generally I think I can tell when something has been sent to people because they lack an enthusiasm or appear to be desperately looking for something positive to say, and the products are so out there sometimes.. its fairly obvious it was sent not bought.. I was once sent some powder for hair that didnt really have a purpose at all or dooo anythng.. baffling..!