Why You Need a Blogging Disclosure Statement

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With more new genealogy bloggers arriving in the blogosphere each and every day, we want to live up to our duty here at GeneaBloggers to inform and educate. One area of blogging with which many new bloggers are unfamiliar is the need for a disclosure statement.*

FTC Regulations on Blogging Advertisements and Endorsements

For bloggers who reside in the United States, the Federal Trade Commission has issued regulations requiring that you disclose certain types of relationships with other companies and individuals relating to endorsements of products and services.  The actual guidelines are available here and are summarized in the FTC announcement here.

Basically what bloggers need to know is this: there is now a requirement that ““bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service” or face a fine up to $11,000 per post.

What is a Material Connection?

With the revised FTC guidelines, a material connection exists between you and an advertiser not just when you are explicitly paid to post about a product or service.  If you receive a product from a vendor and are asked to review it, this too would qualify as a material connection.

What about affiliate links in your blog posts – links which when used by the reader to purchase a product result in a payment to you? In effect you are advertising that product or service although it may not be explicit advertising. It would be in your best interest to err on the side of full disclosure somewhere on your blog rather than risk an FTC investigation.

When and How to Disclose

There are several ways in which you can disclose your “material connections” with vendors and providers on your blog:

  • Place a simple disclosure statement at the end of the blog post where you advertise or endorse a product. Example: “_________ has provided me with a copy of _______ for purposes of providing a review. I received ________ at no charge to me and I am under no obligation to return the product but can keep it for me own personal use.”
  • Another option that many bloggers use is the creation of a general disclosure page for all vendors and advertisers. This page is linked on the sidebar or menu and lists all the products or payments received. At the end of a specific blog post, provide a link to the Disclosure page.
  • If you use affiliate links, you may went to disclose the fact that they exist on your blog (you don’t have to say where or how much money you make on each sale) in the Disclosure page.
  • And remember, if you write articles for genealogy magazines or websites for which you receive payment, you must also list them as material connections.

Resources for Blog Disclosure Statements

Here is a list of resources for building your own blog disclosure statement.

  • DisclosurePolicy.org – a website which helps you generate a disclosure policy for your blog. The six step process collects your information and provides a statement that you can paste on your Disclosure page.
  • BloggerDisclosure.org – although this site hasn’t been updated in almost a year, it has a great set of icons you can use at the end of each blog post.

*GeneaBloggers assumes no liability for the information provided above. The information may not be correct when applied to your specific situation. Moreover, the information provided is not intended to create an attorney/client relationship and shall not be construed as legal advice.

©2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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Comments

13 thoughts on “Why You Need a Blogging Disclosure Statement

  1. Jody

    I don’t think many people “solicit” companies for payment to review their products. Usually the company will seek you out, realize you have a strong readership or your blog has a certain niche in the industry, then they will make the offer.

    I’ve always had it happen that way – and I’ve never been “paid” to review a product but I have been given products for free as part of the process. I tell companies that I will do a good review – this means it will be a thorough review but may not be favorable to them or their product. In my opinion, a good review is a responsible review with full disclosure.

  2. Thomas,
    Thanks for making me aware of this requirement. Do you think this will suffice?
    [Disclosure – My company StudioINTV has an existing production agreement with FTDNA that has no bearing on the opinions I express. I receive no other compensation in relation to any of the companies or products referenced in my blog.]
    Thanks for your opinion.
    CeCe

  3. Pingback: Great Blogging Information you should know | Family History Research

  4. I am unsure of one thing. If you review a book or whatever on your own (no one sent it to you), do you need do disclose that there is no relationship? Thanks!

  5. Melody

    I’ve seen bloggers who state that they purchased the book themselves and that they had no material connection with the author or publisher. I think this lends more credibility to you as a reviewer with this type of transparency.

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