Earlier this year, I did some research on the U.S. Federal Trade Commission guidelines on endorsements and testimonials for a class. As I dug into it, I wrote a post promising to share the paper, so here it is. I thought I’d share the results in hopes that anyone in social media would understand that pay means business, and that means disclosure. The style is academic, which means there are a lot of endnotes and a sizable bibliography, but it shouldn’t kill you.
The short version: If you get stuff from a company to write about (even if they don’t demand it be positive), you are expected to tell your readers. If what you say is deceptive or misleading, you could be blogging from the Hotel GrayBar — or at least be a little lighter in the cash department.
But wait a second, what about free speech? Journalists don’t need to disclose if they get free stuff! Well, let’s just say that the Government — and the Courts — have ruled that your free speech is secondary to the rights of consumers.
I don’t think I can argue. But you can — just read the paper first.
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