About the FTC's Blogger Ruling - Beauty Addict

Thursday, October 08, 2009

About the FTC's Blogger Ruling

As many of you probably know, this week the FTC published guidelines for bloggers and celebrities regarding endorsements and payments. To make a long story short, the reviews posted in this space are considered endorsements by the FTC, and as such, I'm now required to disclose when any consideration (monetary, or payment-in-kind, aka samples) was received.

If the FTC investigates and determines that I've been misinforming you, making dubious claims, and not disclosing, I can be fined up to $11,000.

I've been tempted to post a lengthy missive about the pros and cons of this ruling, but it seems redundant for me to throw my hat into that particular ring at this point. To read the articulately expressed positions of a couple of well-respected beauty gals, go over to Jolie Nadine, The Makeup Girl, and Beauty and Fashion Tech. As Jolie puts it, "really, the fact that publicists send beauty writers things to review is still news?"

The interesting thing is that magazines are exempt from this ruling, which certainly seems unfair to me, but you can draw your own conclusions about that.

Bloggers have until December to comply with the new regulation, but I think I'm going to start right now. It's better this way, so we can reach a solution that's comfortable for all of us - myself as the blog owner, and you as the readers.

I'm certainly not scared of disclosure, it's not going to change the way I write or what I write about, and I'm happy to comply. But, while adding a parenthetical phrase to a single-product post (ie, "Product X, which was sent to me by the brand's PR team") is an easy fix, adding these same disclosures to roundup posts which contain 5 or more items of different origin is a little more of a pickle.

Here's what I'm proposing, and I welcome your feedback:

1. Each product mentioned in a post will have its own disclosure notice, whether I purchased it, tested it in store, received it as a personal gift, or received it as a press sample (disclosing when you buy things is NOT required by the FTC, but personally, why not go whole hog? I'll tell you everything). This disclosure will appear when you mouseover the name of the product. This will be a link, identifiable by pink bold text, as my links always have been. Just mouseover and the information will pop up. Try it here.

2. A "Disclosure" page, outlining my policies around how I obtain products to review on Beauty Addict, will be created and linked to in the upper left sidebar (in the "About" section). This page will also let readers know how to view the disclosure information for each product (via mouseover - explained above).

3. A link to this Disclosure page will also appear at the bottom of every post, next to the Permalink and Comments links. This way, even the casual reader who stops by via a Google search will know about the disclosure policy.

So, what say you? I think it's an elegant solution that puts me in compliance with the FTC policy without bogging down my content with legalese, and it makes things more transparent to you, the reader.

I haven't written up the full Disclosure page just yet - I'm working on it - but I've created the mouseovers for the 8 most recent posts on Beauty Addict. Take a look.