Keeping It Real: New FTC Social Media Disclosure Rules

I’ve recently become aware of new rules that will be enacted by the Federal Trade Commision on December 1, 2009.  The rules basically state that if you are reviewing or endorsing a product on your blog, through tweets or other social media, you must:

  • Disclose if you are being compensated – for instance, free samples were provided.  I wish I had time and the foresight to ask for free samples, but so far all but one of the chocolates I’ve rated have been paid for by me…usually at full retail.  I will go back and note the one’s I’ve paid for and those I haven’t …soon.
  • Write from experience – You must have actually tasted, tried, or tested the product in order to review or endorse it.  This is just common sense.  Check – of course I’ve tasted all of the chocolates on this blog.  Otherwise, what fun would it be?
  • Be truthful in your statements – Again, common sense.  I’ve tried to be as accurate as possible in my assessments of the chocolates tasted.  The numerical rating system is designed to keep things as objective as possible.  But chocolate is art so don’t be surprised if you occasionally disagree with my sense of what tastes good.

I really don’t have any problem with these rules since I’ve been following them already.   There are other people out there getting free stuff from chocolate makers.  I don’t see a problem with this either as long as it’s disclosed.  In the end, it’s best to use online reviews as only a guideline to what you might expect in the style and character of a chocolate.  If the chocolate sounds intriguing or the chocolatier’s story interesting, then try some yourself and make your own decision on what’s best.

In the mean time, I’m going back through all of my past posts to add a disclosure statement to the bottom.  The  FTC doesn’t require that I do this for past posts, but why not? Those old posts still get viewed and people should know the history.

For more information, see the FTC link above or take a look at this New York Times article.

Thanks and good luck to all my fellow bloggers.  Remember to keep it real.

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