Bloggers, Are You at Risk?

Fellow Nanos, we have begun.  Not every writer does well with this sort of pressure, and it remains to be seen whether I will . . . or not.

I came across an article by Kay Day at The Writer magazine, who always has something interesting to say about writing on the web and how the web affects the rest of us.  This time she posts on the government’s new interest on blogs and advertising.  If you have advertisers on yours, give book reviews or even post comments to someone’s monetary advantage, beware.

“It was only a matter of time before watchdog organizations and the government took an interest in blogs. And if you’re doing paid reviews for products or services, you should adopt a low-risk position. Disclose what you’re doing. The Federal Trade Commission is expanding the agency’s interest in blogs and other advertising media on the Web with a sharp eye on endorsements and testimonials. The National Advertising Review Council (NARC) is doing the same. But the issues go beyond the mommy blogger who praises a toy brand after she received a free sample.

“If you blog, even if you don’t write paid reviews, regulations will affect you. So it’s important to protect yourself from a liability standpoint. For starters, if you have third party advertising on your Web site, place a notice telling your visitors they leave your site for another if they click on the ad. Make the reader aware the destination may have a different standard for recording private information.

“If you are writing paid reviews, disclose your arrangement to the reader. Otherwise you are in violation of the FTC’s guides on Endorsements and Testimonials.”

This was to be expected, as someone takes advantage of every new thing, and there is always that bad apple that makes it difficult for the rest of us.  The larger the community, the more opportunity for those rotten apples and the more of them.  So we give our collective sighs, follow the new rules and move on.