A Scenic Tour of the Online World

FTC Disclosure Guidelines for Online Advertisers

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Uh oh, the Feds just joined the party.

Actually, they were hip enough to get involved at least as early as 2000, but the FTC recently updated their “.com Disclosures” guidelines.

I’m not a lawyer. I don’t play one on TV. And I’m not going to even begin to try to interpret the guidelines for you. Consult a lawyer.

I’ll also say that while I’m generally in favor of consumer protections and would rather err on the side of protecting the consumer than protecting the interests of advertisers and businesses in general, this document doesn’t seem as realistic as I would hope.

I’m with them on advertising being truthful and not misleading. I agree that advertisers should have evidence to substantiate their claims. And advertising should definitely not be unfair. But their rules for disclosures being conspicuous are tough to follow and, I think, tougher to implement to the letter of the law.

In the end, though, I do think that common sense prevails and there’s enough latitude in the language to allow for common practices, like linking to disclosures rather than having to put the full legal text on every applicable page.

Give it a read and let me know what you think.


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