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Federal Law on Endorsements and Testimonials
In this age of social media and blogs, where people are providing a testimonial about products and services, the statements are often taken to be truthful by the readers. However, there are many instances where this is not the case.
Almost daily, I see posts, where an endorsement or testimonial is made by individuals that I personally know either work for or have received a benefit from the mention of a particular product or service and the information presented, is often far from the truth.
The problem is they are legally required to disclose their material connection with the product or service so that those reading the testimonial would know of the connection However I have yet to see even one of these individuals include the required disclosure as mandated by the Federal Trade Commission.
Such a statement would be similar to:
Disclosure of Material Connection: Under Federal Law, I must disclose that I work for the company mentioned above and/or I have a material connection with the company in that I receive either products or discounts from the company. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to those who read my comments. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
An example might be that someone asks about a particular brand of ink on Facebook or other social media site. You have used the ink and personally found it to be very good for the purpose mentioned in the original post. You post a message, stating:
“I have used this ink for several years and have found that it works like a charm. It is creamy, ready to use right out of the bucket, produces a smooth, soft finish and cures extremely well. All of the products that I have printed using this ink have come out excellent.”
While that sounds like a glowing recommendation and may be very well entirely true in your own personal opinion. However, it may not be the case for others with a completely different set of variables. If you have no material connection with the ink manufacturer or a distributor your testimonial may not be looked upon as endorsement.
However, if a connection exists between you and the seller of the product or service, which might materially affect the weight or credibility of the endorsement (i.e. the connection is not known or not reasonably expected by the readers), then such a connection must be fully disclosed.
As an example when someone asks, “What ink would you recommend for printing camouflaged fleece?” and a person who works for or has a material connection with a manufacturer or distributor posts a testimonial or even a link to the product, then that person must fully disclose their material connection or be charged under the Federal Law.
Another example is if you promote a product or service that also supports your website by paid advertisement, you must disclose the material connections in all mentions of the product or service.
To learn more, read the Federal Register Notice by Clicking Here
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