For those of you in a panic over the FTC’s plans to fine bloggers $11,000–each time they don’t disclose a sponsored endorsement–can put down the brown paper bag. It’s not as bad as it appears.
Fast Company asked Richard Cleland, assistant director, division of advertising practices at the FTC, a number of questions about the new guidelines.
Here’s the one that will drop your blood pressure back down to normal levels:
Richard Cleland: “That $11,000 fine is not true. Worst-case scenario, someone receives a warning, refuses to comply, followed by a serious product defect; we would institute a proceeding with a cease-and-desist order and mandate compliance with the law. To the extent that I have seen and heard, people are not objecting to the disclosure requirements but to the fear of penalty if they inadvertently make a mistake. That’s the thing I don’t think people need to be concerned about. There’s no monetary penalty, in terms of the first violation, even in the worst case. Our approach is going to be educational, particularly with bloggers. We’re focusing on the advertisers: What kind of education are you providing them, are you monitoring the bloggers and whether what they’re saying is true?”
A couple of interesting points:
- The FTC wants to educate bloggers, not fine them.
- Advertisers on the other hand, may not get quite the same benefit of the doubt.
It’s worth reading the other questions pitched to the FTC.