It seems the Federal Trade Commission has issued some rules regarding Bloggers (and folks who Twitter, etc) who endorse items.♠ You can read the eighty-one (81) page ruling here. I guess we should be thankful it is only 81 pages. To quote from Slate:
If you're a blogger and you write about goods or services—and what blogger doesn't write about books, movies, music, theater, restaurants, home theaters, laptops, manicures, clothing, tutoring, bicycles, cars, boats, cameras, strollers, watches, lawn care, pharmaceuticals, gourmet food, maid service, hair care, concerts, banking, shipping, or septic tank service from time to time?—then you've just made yourself vulnerable to an investigation from the Federal Trade Commission.And, beside the investigation, there is the punishment. In addition to the need to hire a lawyer at some unknown cost, there is the chance of a fine. Not having had a chance to read the 81 pages in detail,♥ I don't know if they also get to seize your computer for a while, or for ever.
Here is more from Slate:
In new guidelines released Oct. 5, the FTC put bloggers on notice that they could incur an $11,000 fine if they receive free goods, free services, or money and write about the goods or services without conspicuously disclosing their "material connection" to the provider. The FTC guidelines extend even to Facebook and Twitter posters. If you received a gratis novel from the publicity department of a publisher and posted a tweet about it without disclosing that the book was a freebie, you become an "endorser" in the FTC's view. It could—in the name of consumer protection—hit you with a fine. The 81-page guidelines, which also mandate stringent celebrity endorsements rules, will take effect Dec. 1.Is there anyone who doesn't think that federal investigators are like test pilots, always pushing the edge of the envelope, trying to see just what kind of performance they can get out of a given law or ruling?
I know the odds are with us. There are a lot of folks who blog and twitter and are on Facebook. There is, at this point, a limited number of FTC Investigators. I guess the law of averages are with us. Still...
Good luck to us.
Regards — Cliff
♠ To go into effect 1 December of this year.
♥ On the other hand, I am not a Member of Congress, so I expect to get to a thorough review quickly and well before 1 December.