Copycense shared this link via Twitter. The Citizen Media Law Project does a pretty good job of digging further into the FTC’s new rules. Reading through the post, it looks like it is actually fairly hard to trigger the rules around product or service endorsements accidentally. The fact that the rules are fuzzy shouldn’t affect that threshold.
The FTC will look at the following factors to determine whether a message conveying positive statements about a product or service is an “endorsement”:
- whether the speaker is compensated by the advertiser or its agent;
- whether the product or service in question was provided by free by the advertiser;
- the terms of any agreement;
- the length of the relationship;
- the previous receipt of products or services from the same or similar advertisers, or the likelihood of future receipt of such products or services; and
- the value of the items or services received.
This is backed up both by one of the videos the FTC produced to educate those affected by the rules as well as a quote in the CMLP post from a panel on the subject.
I don’t doubt that the rules could be abused given that they depend an a framework of several principles. Hopefully any blogger or podcaster caught by a false accusation of conflict of interest would be able to clear their name, if needs be. All the better if the person or organization bringing that complaint would be penalized, but that still remains unclear to me.