Disclosures and Disclaimers
In 2009, the FTC began requiring that bloggers disclose any special interests in or connections to products, services, etc when writing about and/or endorsing them.
“The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that “material connections” (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other “word-of-mouth” marketers.”
This means, (just as an example), if a company sent me a product for free to review, or I consulted for a company that I also happen to be writing about, or someone I interview on my podcast bought me dinner 20 years ago, or I’m friends with the owner of a restaurant that I “Like” on Facebook, or a well known author gave me their book to read and I decide to endorse it, or if I have a link on my blog that pays me .05¢ per click or an advertisement that generates one dollar a month, or if a person I write about gave me a free product sample, or I got a free surf trip to Tavarua for writing about it, and an on and on... it needs to be disclosed.
Some bloggers say that these are ridiculous standards, but they could help to maintain integrity in the marketplace. It's a double edged sword.
Since it would be overwhelming for me (and probably you as well) to read disclaimers all the time, I (along with many others on the Internets) have opted for a “disclosures” page.
While the ultimate purpose of this blog is to have fun, entertain, inspire people and share ideas among my peers, I may be paid directly or indirectly for some (or all) of the content I create (in posts, video etc).
I am hereby stating that you may assume that I have a material connection to any product, service, person, or otherwise that I make reference to on my website/blog. You may make the same assumption of anything I share on social media and pretty much anywhere else I can think of on or offline.
You have been informed. I make money. I get free stuff.
But why disclose all content even if some isn’t really making any money? (or a lot of it isn't making any money!)
Simply for the sake of safety. In today’s world, anything you say or do can have a material impact on your employment and how you “gain,” whether it is monetary or "in-kind". However, you can trust that while I may review, research, examine or otherwise create content about a variety of products, I will only promote people and/or products that I know well, use myself, really like and support—people and things that I feel will help my readers.
How far the FTC goes with all the disclosures is unknown to me. How far does “word of mouth” go? If my grandma tweets about the surfboard she got for free, but doesn’t disclose it was free, is she busted by the G-men? I guess that might not matter, because grandma don’t surf! (actually I know many grandmas that surf really well!) but you get my drift.
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