Product Bloggers Can Be Fined $11,000 for Failing to Disclose Freebies

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) just frightened the hell out of mommy bloggers and product bloggers everywhere by creating rules that bloggers who fail to disclose they were given freebies to write about a product can now be fined up to $11,000 per post.

These new guidelines, FTC Guide Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising says that bloggers who receive “cash or in-kind payment to review a product” must disclose the fact of this payment on their blog.

When I receive a free product or service or overnight stay for my blogging or travel writing, I usually just handle it with a quick, “I received a free _____ courtesy of the fine folks at ________,” I think bloggers need to create a new official statement that sits at the bottom of every blog post, sort of like a photographer’s credit or stringer’s byline at the bottom of a news article.

One friend was even reported to the FTC by an Internet troll. He runs a tourism website about his hometown, and had once received a free meal or gift card for a local restaurant. Several months later, he received a nasty letter from the FTC reminding him of the product bloggers’ rules, so he not only had to amend that article, he started putting in a disclaimer in most of his posts just to avoid trouble.

Because the Federal Trade Commission sucks, the product or service I wrote about in this post was given to me free by the manufacturer/distributor.

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    About Erik Deckers

    Erik Deckers is the President of Pro Blog Service, a content marketing and social media marketing agency in Indianapolis, IN. He co-authored three social media books, including No Bullshit Social Media with Jason Falls (2011, Que Biz-Tech), and Branding Yourself with Kyle Lacy (2nd ed., 2012; Que Biz-Tech), and The Owned Media Doctrine (2013, Archway Publishing). Erik has written a weekly newspaper humor column for 10 papers around Indiana since 1995. He was also the Spring 2016 writer-in-residence at the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando, FL.


    1. Well this really sucks. I’ve always disclosed that the product I was writing about was a freebie or a paid post though I have had one company demand that I remove the disclosure. Most of the mommy blogs I visit have a page dedicated to their disclosure policy so hopefully there won’t be too many who get socked with this outrageous fee.
      .-= Jen´s last blog ..Google Stopped Loving Me =-.

    2. What a waste of FTC time and resources. The public’s been swindled out of trillions of dollars by large corporations and banks, but hey, we gotta stop mommy bloggers from recommending a diaper brand without telling us they got a free pack of diapers. Sheesh. Government sucks all around!
      .-= Chuck Lasker´s last blog ..10 Reasons Why I Prefer the Miva Merchant Shopping Cart =-.


    1. […] Downside: No money. You do this to earn perks and benefits that you might not otherwise get, which can stretch your family’s budget, but this is a tough way to earn a living. On the upside, it could lead to other opportunities later on. I know someone who started writing a travel blog, and is now a professional travel writer who gets flown to far-off locales and gets paid to describe his experience. You also have to disclose any kinds of financial gifts or payments you received, according to the FTC’s blogging rules. […]