Even if you’re mostly occupied with designing websites, you should be aware of FTCs guidelines about disclosing material connections (like affiliate links) for your own site, or other sites and blogs you visit. These disclosure guides aren’t specifically written for bloggers, but apply to anyone who implements online advertising. As the internet is growing out of its baby stage, laws and guidelines have been created or adapted to accommodate and include new technologies. Following are a few files and guides the FTC (a consumer protection agency) has issued on the topic:
– Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (PDF). These Guides offer more than 35 examples of how they apply in practical settings.
“The Guides address the application of Section 5 of the FTC Act (15 U.S.C. 45) to the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. The Guides provide the basis for voluntary compliance with the law by advertisers and endorsers. Practices inconsistent with these Guides may result in corrective action by the Commission under Section 5 if, after investigation, the Commission has reason to believe that the practices fall within the scope of conduct declared unlawful by the statute.”
What’s an endorsement?
“Endorsement means any advertising message (including verbal statements, demonstrations, or depictions of the name, signature, likeness or other identifying personal characteristics of an individual or the name or seal of an organization) that consumers are likely to believe reflects the opinions, beliefs, findings, or experiences of a party other than the sponsoring advertiser, even if the views expressed by that party are identical to those of the sponsoring advertiser. The party whose opinions, beliefs, findings, or experience the message appears to reflect will be called the endorser and may be an individual, group, or institution.”
What about testimonials?
“The Commission intends to treat endorsements and testimonials identically in the context of its enforcement of the Federal Trade Commission Act and for purposes of this part.”
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