FTC Disclosure Statement
If you're the kind of person who would be shocked to discover that celebrities are paid for their endorsements in late-night infomercials, or would be horrified to discover that Google Ads are advertisements and Amazon product links have to do with selling products, then the Federal Trade Commission is stepping up to protect you -- from evil bloggers!
Yes, the FTC has issued Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (PDF), imposing new rules and "guides" as of December 1, 2009.
While most of the 81-page document is concerned with claims made by advertisers and celebrity endorsers, the federal government also worries about Mommy bloggers: "... an individual who regularly receives free samples of products for families with young children and discusses those products on his or her blog would likely have to disclose that he or she received for free the items being recommended."
However, the guidance in this document is provided in the form of examples of situations that could trigger disclosure, omitting both clear, specific requirements and any discussion of the form of such disclosure. Sigh.
(Interestingly, the FTC is not concerned about such reviews in what it calls "traditional media" -- so newspapers, magazines, and television and radio stations can continue to enjoy press junkets without government supervision. Mommy bloggers are much more dangerous!)
So, while I've been clear about describing my background and industry relationships on my Manifest Technology website (and associated Manifest Tech blog), I'll take an extra step here in a FTC Disclosure Statement. In general, while I'd prefer that you not consider me as on the take, you should assume that companies have provided samples of many of the products that I discuss on my site.
Bottom line: I look at lots of products. You should expect that many are provided by companies for this purpose. I also receive various food, tchotchkes, and other swag at various industry and press events. I don't profit from these. I have other long-term relationships and occasional business relationships with some companies, which have been explicitly disclosed on this site (when not confidential). And in case you haven't noticed, I use Google Ads and Amazon affiliate links on the site to help defray my costs.
Yeesh! Do you feel safer now?
In case you missed the link above, click here for full FTC Disclosure Statement