FTC Blogger Rules – FTC Notice
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published a set of rules regulating bloggers in October of 2009. To date, most bloggers are either unaware of the rules or are choosing to ignore them. The rules can be read on the FTC website here. To understand the absurdity of these poorly drafted regulations, read Walter Olson’s post and the article links in it on Overlawyered.com. This will save me from having to explain it to you myself.
The gist of the rules is that if you don’t disclose your relationship to a product, such as that you are getting it for free, that you are posting an affiliate link, that the advertisements on the side of the website are advertisements, or that your best friend’s cousin’s ex-wife’s boyfriend works for the company that makes the product, you could be fined $11,000.
I don’t want to pay $11,000 for leaving out a sentence in an article or for someone idiot not realizing that an ad was actually an ad. However, I’m also not going to pollute every article I write with a morass of disclaimers. So to make this simple, here is my disclosure for this entire website: if there is a way to make money off of something on this website, I’ll do it. If I can get something for free, I’ll take it. If a kickback is available, I want in on it. Readers, you are hereby put on notice that I may make money off of anything you read, click, forward, spit on, or laugh at on this site. This warning is hereby reasserted and incorporated by reference into every page and post on this website via that little tab that shows up at the top of every page that says “FTC Notice.” I know you noticed it because you are reading this page right now.
See those ads across the top of the page and going down the side? Those are advertisements. They aren’t on this website because I like to just give away space or because I think they are pretty. They are here to increase the odds that this blog might generate enough money to pay for the coffee I drink while writing it.
I’ll insert an affiliate ad code into every single word if I think I might get paid for it. If I like a product and decide to write about it on this site, I’ll check and see if they have an affiliate ad code I can plug into the post. If I hate a product and completely trash it on this website, I’ll still go look for an affilate ad code and plug it into the story, just in case you want to buy it anyway. And if someone will give me a product or service for free just so I’ll write about it, you better believe I’ll take them up on the deal.
None of that means I’ll say something untruthful on this site, it just means I’m not going to turn down freebies or free money for writing about things I’m going to write about anyway. If you can walk to the store for free, or you can walk to the store and get paid for taking the walk, which would you choose? Likewise, I’m going to write these articles regardless of whether I get any compensation for doing it. But if all I have to do is copy a snippet of code into an article to make a few nickels now and then, why not do it?
So if I fail to make all of this clear in every new page or post I write for this site, don’t try to fine me $11,000 for it. Your disclosure is right here.
Now go read some articles on the blog. After all, isn’t that why you are really here?