FTC to Fine Bloggers up to $11,000 for Not Disclosing Payments

Disclosure that you’re being paid for your positive comments about something must be “clear and conspicuous,” no matter what form it will take. That’s the story from the FTC’s new regulations…right here. Rules take effect December 1, 2009.

While it’s first aimed at peeps who write product reviews – people who are paid to write positive comments – the regs likely include affiliate and network marketers.

If you’re writing positive comments about products, programs or opportunities, you’ll have to disclose that you’ll be paid if the reader buys.

Not everyone thinks this is a good idea. See here.

But Matt Cutts, who’s a long-time engineer at Google and much of whose work is focused on distinguishing genuine product review blogs from fake ones (posted only to make money) writes:

“As a Google engineer who has seen the damage done by fake blogs, sock puppets, and endless scams on the internet, I’m happy to take the opposite position (of Mr. Jarvis – see here-KK): I think the FTC guidelines will make the web more useful and more trustworthy for consumers.

Consumers don’t want to be shilled and they don’t want payola; they want a web that they can trust. The FTC guidelines just say that material connections should be disclosed. From having dealt with these issues over several years, I believe that will be a good thing for the web.”

I tend to agree with Matt and the FTC. You?

P.S. NEXT: Wow. No More Dramatic Testimonials, says FTC. here.

About the author

Kim Klaver


  • Who could ethically argue against full disclosure and transparency? Certainly not anyone who realizes the truth about who we are in relation to each other, I think.


    I have seen SO many people even in our very own industry promoting these 'great things' while neglecting to mention that the link they have posted is their very own masked affiliate link!


    I am tired of seeing people promoting outrageous income claims and sucking in innocent people!

    Jim Lupkin

  • Great info, Kim, as always. I'll be spreading the word.

    Oh, btw, do we need to add "Independent Distributor" now on our blogs if we blog about our products and leave a link to our affiliate sites?

  • This will be extremely hard to enforce, as the FTC only has jurisdiction over the U.S. and TONS of websites are from non-U.S. marketers.

    While I'm against outlandish claims, this is a bit ridiculous. The Romans used to say "Caveat Emptor" buyer beware, and this still holds true today. Look into anything you buy before paying for it.

  • I agree with Kurt. This is just further proof of the 'nanny state' we live in. Whatever happened to good common sense and discretion? Use your brain, people. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

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