About eight months ago, I wrote a post regarding the FTC’s proposed rule changes regarding endorsements and testimonials. Those rules, with some slight changes, will become a reality on December 1, 2009. If you are interested, the FTC has put together its 81 page Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, in which the FTC highlights its thoughts and reasoning regarding the comments and its eventual decisions regarding the changes.
Depending on who you read, the rule changes are minor or they are the end of the world. I generally agree with Robert J. Ambrogi in his post which asks the question The FTC Blog Rules: Overbroad or Overblown? He concludes that some of the reactions to the rules have been exaggerated in scope, but that those who regularly endorse products or services should exercise caution.
The rules certainly change the playing field by bringing social media like blogging within the scope of the jurisdiction of the FTC. But those rules are also good and are generally designed to protect consumers from snake oil salesmen and deceptive advertising. We need to remember that the FTC has discretion in its enforcement of the law just like a traffic cop who can consider mitigating circumstances before issuing a speeding ticket. Likewise, abuses are always possible. As concerned citizens, we need to recognize that the FTC is walking a tight-rope while balancing competing concerns. On the one side is the danger of prosecuting innocents, on the other side is allowing harm to consumers by failing to stop the bad guys.
I will be the guest for B. Hopkins on November 18, 2009 at 1pm MST on her internet radio show to talk about the FTC rules as they relate to website creation. It should be a fun discussion and I invite you to join us.