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The New FTC Guidelines, How Fair Is It?

If there is one thing that I hate it’s those bullshit commercials that go on and on. You know the ones, they’re promoting a product and if you buy it now you get some other crap thrown in. Then it goes on a bit more about how cool the stuff is, and then you get the old, ‘and there’s more’ line if you do this or that. The end result of buying into the whole sales line is that you have so much more shit to throw away.

Well, that is what the old squeeze page is like. You’ve all seen them. You land on a page that is promising to show you how you can tell your boss to shove his job because it’s going to reveal how you can make thousands of dollars a month. The problem is that no matter how much you scroll down, it seems you’re never going to get to the end of the sales jargon, and when you do, instead of telling you how much they’re going to fleece you, all you get is a link to click on, and 9 times out of ten you have to divulge your email address, and possible some other details. No worries though, because you’ve just been given a link to some crappy ‘free’ ebook.

Well, it’s quite possible that the new FTC guidelines which came into force on Dec. 1st is going to put a stop to all that. If you haven’t heard of these new guidelines you should check out the FTC website, and if you’ve got a lot of time to kill you may even want to read the 81 page guide.

Anyway, the problem is that the only ones it will affect are the Americans. I’m not 100% sure but I think everyone else around the globe is FTC safe. So, the question is how fair is it to the average American?

Let’s look at paid bloggers as an example. Most bloggers are already doing the right thing, by having a disclosure policy on their blog, and generally speaking, a lot of them do not make false claims in their paid posts. These new rules will now force those other bloggers to lift their game, but only if they are American.

So, what will the advertisers who paid for these posts do now that the new rules are out, and bloggers have to divulge, via the post, that they’re getting paid for it? As the majority of advertisers do not want bloggers to divulge such information,  I put it to you that they could possibly look to overseas bloggers for these paid posts, thereby restricting Americans from a legitimate form of income. If this is the case, instead of solving the problem, the FTC guidelines is simply relocating it.

These guidelines are possibly flawed in that the majority of scam sites and blogs are in the control of non Americans who don’t give a hoot about these guidelines.

Kristi raises a good point when she says in her post covering the FTC Guidelines;

Does there need to be fine print disclosures under every affiliate link on a website if someone is going to be paid commission on a purchase originating at that website, or does this only apply to written testimonials and reviews?

And if it is necessary to apply it every time someone writes a post promoting an affiliate, is that really fair? And who is to decide if someone has broken the guidelines? A blogger in good faith may have written a post promoting an affiliate thinking he’s abiding by the rules only to find out that some official disagrees and cops a whopping fine for his efforts. Sounds to me like the whole thing is flawed.

What say you guys? Will it do what it’s claiming to do? Will the Net be a better place because of it, or is it just another piece of bureaucratic crap who’s only intention is to show that the pen pushers are doing something to justify their exorbitant salaries?

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Peter Pelliccia

I'm an Aussie blogger who loves to blog and share everything that I've learned on my blogging journey, including blogging tips and ways to blog for money. I am also trying to make my way on YouTube. You can follow my progress by subscribing to My Bonzer Channel.

This Post Has 35 Comments

  1. I think you bring up some valid points. There is a good interview here that answered a lot of my questions. (It is long but informative.)

    I thought cool, if I can get this FTC official to take my case should they come calling. Or at least make the interview required viewing for all FTC officials.

    Because someone in that organization is someday going to have a bug up their butt over something, or a new FTC employee will have something to prove in order to climb the ladder.

    Spot on about squeeze pages. I hate the really long ones and always scroll to the bottom to find the price.
    When they make you click to find out the cost it really peeves me.

    Then there are the ones that popup if you try to leave and offer you a better price. If they can’t offer everyone their same best price IMO they have ripped a lot of people off. These are so common now that I always check to see if it being used.

    After checking out the interview I do feel that it is a step in the right direction, but you are right. Their is still a long way to go.

    .-= Steve Warriner´s last blog ..FTC Guidelines – One More Day =-.

    1. Thanks for that link Steve, I listened to about half of it before I was called to dinner. At least it tones down the demonic side of the FTC guidelines, as it doesn’t sound as bad as some people made it out to be.

      Still reckon there are a few flaws, and I bet you 10 to 1 that there will be a lot of scam letters from the FTC saying they’ve broken the rules and could you please fill out these detail, etc, etc, or worse yet run this file to see how to resolve this issue.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  2. Yeah, I don’t care about the FTC guidelines. I just declared everything on my site as making me as much money as possible, and refuse to worry about it.

    These guidelines will have as much effect as the Surgeon General’s warning on cigarette packages. Which is to day, none.
    .-= Dave Doolin | Website In A Weekend´s last blog ..Playing The Host: A Quick Intro to WordPress MU =-.

    1. That’s probably true for those scammers and such as they generally don’t follow rules anyway. I reckon there will be a lot of honest bloggers who don’t have anything to worry about that will be stressing over the new rules.

  3. I read about this. I know a few advertising- paid to review sites are not in compliance yet.
    .-= Rose´s last blog ..How to add a falling snow effect to your Blogger Blog =-.

    1. I reckon it’s more than just a few Rose. Thanks for dropping by.

  4. The first time I heard about this update in the FTC guidelines, I felt good in anticipation of shorter and more truthful and thus believable squeeze pages.

    Now that I knew that the majority of these sites are non Americans after all, it felt like it was a false alarm. So guys, we may have to suffer through a few more years (or forever) of more long squeeze pages and humongously majestic claims and testimonials.
    .-= James Moralde´s last blog ..DIV Background Image for WordPress Post =-.

    1. I think you’re right, it will be a long time before we are rid of the Squeeze pages.

  5. Good morning, Sire.

    Honestly, I don’t know if these new guidelines will have much of an effect or not.

    After all, they’re not changing the laws related to advertising, just how they’re going to be interpreting the laws and what they expect in terms of compliance.

    Eventually, I’ll get around to writing a disclosures page for my sites and I’ll probably add a notice to new affiliate links, but I don’t intend to go back and add anything to old posts or websites.

    Since I don’t do paid reviews, don’t use testimonials, nor do the other things they’re targeting, I am not nearly as stressed about this as I was when I first heard of it.

    We’ll see what happens over time.

    Act on your dream!


    1. Yes, all in good time John. Even though it doesn’t affect me being an Aussie and all, I find it interesting seeing what your guys over there in the FTC come up with in their campaign to protect the American public.

  6. Lynn Terry wrote 4 very good articles on the topic, starting months back when the rumors starting surfacing, you may want to check them out.

    Also, kudos to you my friend, so far you are the first non-American I’ve read that’s actually concerned about the American in this case. :-)
    .-= Dennis Edell´s last blog ..Blogging Halted Here – Don’t Despair, This Is A Good Thing! =-.

    1. Are you kidding, if they kill you guys off, figuratively speaking, who’s going to read my blog? :grin1_ee:

      1. Well, so much for the selflessness. Hahahahaha.
        .-= Dennis Edell´s last blog ..Blogging Halted Here – Don’t Despair, This Is A Good Thing! =-.

  7. “Anyway, the problem is that the only ones it will affect are the Americans. I’m not 100% sure but I think everyone else around the globe is FTC safe. So, the question is how fair is it to the average American?”

    There might be a problem if you targeted customers in the USA. I don´t know if this is true, but it may be good to know it!
    .-= Benjamin@online marketing´s last blog ..Massive PPV Traffic, Extra Bonuses Added! =-.

    1. I’m pretty sure that is what I implied in the post. As to someone outside the US targeting US customers, how would they police that?

  8. I never really thought about the fairness of it all and how it only affects those of us in the U.S. until you pointed it out here. Hmmm :ponder_tb: I think most legitimate bloggers and businesses won’t be affected by the ruling. In fact, some of the sites I belong to have updated their TOS and seem to be okay with it all.
    .-= Anne@AnneOnLife´s last blog ..A Christmas Story to Brighten Your Day =-.

    1. That’s true that a legitimate bloggers etc will not be affected by it at all….too bad it’s more than likely stressing a lot of them out though.

  9. Based on what I’ve seen some weeks ago on a video regarding the FTC guidelines, globally, the ruling is equal for as long as an overseas blogger deals with US based companies or clients. However, what’s not clear is how they would go after those outside the US because generally the impact is on the mainland US. FTC afterall is not against bloggers but from my understanding, they’re basically more concentrated on testimonials with too-good-to-be-true statements and dietary/slimming products with false claims.

    The FTC only requires some lines of disclosure that may serve as a hint for something gained but that doesn’t mean disclosing a single penny unless a blogger is paid to travel abroad or is sent somewhere else for a paid vacation, I think that needs more disclosure than a five dollar post.
    .-= Mathdelane @Software Critics´s last blog ..Earn Revenue Playing Trivia and Referring Friends =-.

    1. The problem is how do they ascertain that a particular blogger is targeting Americans. I’m pretty sure they don’t care who buys their product, so it would be a little hard to prove that any particular post is aimed solely at US citizens.

      1. That’s basically one of the loopholes around the FTC guidelines. However, they might have some means to know if a certain product is targeting US market but has outsourced the promotion outside their boarders. What isn’t sure really is how they would undertake the necessary action in those cases.
        .-= Mathdelane @Software Critics´s last blog ..Software Critics Job Board Now Open =-.

  10. Twitter:
    My thought is that it will give some people a chance to complain when they see the same exact thing on multiple websites, which means the reviews are obviously fake, possibly set up by the company itself. It’s not going to jeopardize any blogger who writes a review, whether it’s paid or not, because they’re not after individual bloggers. I think it’s going to end up being a good thing because the rest of us will feel like we can trust more of what we see.
    .-= Mitch´s last blog ..Traffic And Buyers =-.

    1. Well Mitch, I’m not saying it will be a good thing, and I’m not saying it won’t. I’m just going to sit on the fence for a bit to see how it all turns out.

        1. One of the many positives of being an Aussie.

  11. These are some good valid points, in addition to what many other are already saying about the new FTC guidelines. The only thing I am sure of is that every time I read something about this issue, I get more confused. For example, I am from Portugal. If I publish a post that benefits me monetarily from a company (like AdSense) which HQ is in the USA, will that also apply to me? We’ll see. But at the end of the day, maybe Dave is right.
    .-= DiTesco´s last blog ..DiTesco’s Weekly Echo #13 =-.

    1. I think we, me being an Aussie and you Portuguese, are exempt from these rules and we can therefore say whatever we want to suck the unwary into our clutches. Unfortunately we have high morals and would not stoop so low as to use these unsavory techniques.

  12. Here’s what I know. When ‘they’ tried to pass a law to restrict online gaming, the major sites found workarounds, as you describe above. I suspect as you state, sites will simply have to relocate to a non US domain, in order to blissfully continue their existence, transcending the new guidelines at the same time. Furthermore, I should also be able to write a post for the sites that are overseas, as they’d be restricting my ability to work otherwise.
    .-= Matches Malone´s last blog ..The Making of, Party in the House!!! =-.

    1. Actually I don’t think that it would work for a US citizen to shift to an overseas domain. It’s not where the domain is located, it’s whether or not you are American.

  13. I never really thought about the fairness of it all and how it only affects those of us in the U.S. until you pointed it out here

    1. Sometimes you have to think of the bigger picture. In this case the only ones targeted are Americans and I didn’t think that was fair.

  14. This FTC stuff is a smokescreen, just to make us all think someone is doing something constructive about a problem that has existed as long as the Internet has been around. I suppose we all should be grateful that someone is making an effort to squash what you have described here but geez, talk about a an uphill battle!
    .-= Dick´s last blog ..Tips To Better Blogging =-.

    1. That could be true Dick. You must admit that it’s created quite a stir and so it will affect the way a lot of people conduct themselves on the net, at least for awhile.

  15. I forgot to state the other day that- NO I don’t think it is fair to the US at all.
    .-= Rose´s last blog ..Weird usb flash drives-Odd Gadgets =-.

  16. I have been hearing this for quite a while from various blogs that I follow. What I think about this is that it’s scaring away affiliate marketers and review blogs.

    But I am not so sure about what I think. This pulls down profit.

Comments are closed.