Disclosure Statements for Bloggers

Comments 3 by Rebecca Bollwitt

Unless properly disclosed, motivation for reviews on blogs has sometimes been a mystery to the unfamiliar reader. Was the author paid? Did they simply feel moved to write based on their enjoyment a restaurant or product? Thanks to the CMP.ly service, bloggers and Tweeters now have an instant and easy-to-share way to add a disclosure statement to a post or tweet.

“CMP.ly provides bloggers and advertisers with a simple disclosure solution. We have created a set of easily identifiable disclosures and codes that can be used to identify any material connections in your blog posts, tweets or other communications. These disclosures give you flexible options and provide you with both short codes and full text disclosures that can be included in your posts.”

I know that often on my site I include information and events simply because a) I think they’re worth sharing b) my audience would appreciate it c) it’s Vancouver-centric. However, I am often accused of being paid off for sharing specific information, which is never the case unless I have specifically used the words “sponsored” or “commissioned”.

In the United States, “Mommy Bloggers” (or mothers that earn a living blogging from home) have been accused of being “corporate shills” as they write about products they have been given for review. Same goes for technology bloggers or any independent online writer who is sent product. This exchange is very prevalent in the blogging realm but as I see most often, the company supplying the product does so without expecting a blog post in exchange. Many are usually told, “if you’d like to blog about it after, that would be great but you’re under no obligation.”

Who we are in our blogs are real, but our blogs are just one part of us, sometimes amplified. Every page on your blog, right down to the most seemingly boring and mundane and possibly lawsuit-averting – like, ahem, a disclosure policy – is an opportunity to develop your character and tell your story. [Problogger]

Despite a disclosure statement being recommended, in the fall of 2009 the FTC in the United States amplified things… just a tad. They announced that it would be fining bloggers up to $11,000 for failing to disclose endorsement payments for review or sponsored blog posts.

The growing trend is fueling legal and social debate over how bloggers disclose what goodies they get. New guidelines released last month by the Federal Trade Commission say bloggers must divulge financial or product compensation they get in exchange for writing about a company’s products. The regulations go into effect Dec. 1 [2009] [NewsTribune]

Even though the FTC does not reach up into Canada, all bloggers should still consider having a disclosure statement. You can use the CMP.ly service or simply have a page on your site dedicated to disclosure.

Disclosure types:

  • CMP.ly/0 – No connection, unpaid, my own opinions.
  • CMP.ly/1 – Based upon a review copy.
  • CMP.ly/2 – Based upon a sample.
  • CMP.ly/3 – Paid post.
  • CMP.ly/4 – Employee / shareholder / business relationship.
  • CMP.ly/5 – Affiliate marketing links.
  • CMP.ly/6 – Custom disclosure.
  • CMP.ly also allows you to make disclosure statements based on specific campaigns.

    Photo credit: Joe Gratz on Flickr

    Going forward on this site, I’ll be using a CMP.ly link at the end of posts that mention restaurants or products as well as on my sidebars in the “sponsored” or “partnership” sections. This way readers can simply click the link and it will take you to a page that states the disclosure for the post (ie. “To read the disclosure on this post visit http://cmp.ly/0). Mind you, not everyone even cares about this stuff but for those who do (and eventually for the government) it’s here to stay.

    I love supporting local businesses and offering contests, but I also love being transparent for my audience — providing truthful and responsible content. Hopefully this will avoid any confusion in the future and allow everyone to benefit from the sharing of information (and some pretty cool prizes to boot).

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    3 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

    1. Balanced, fair and fun: TheseBoots aims to blog with integrity | theseboots.travelSaturday, January 9th, 2010 — 9:00pm PST

      […] it’s a good idea that bloggers be required by law to disclose freebies. She reiterated her blog post which said although transparency isn’t required, she does “offer some disclosure” […]

    2. JulieSaturday, January 9th, 2010 — 9:03pm PST

      Thanks Rebecca. This post–and the CBC interview that followed–inspired me. I’ve amended my own disclosure statement and given it its own page. I welcome feedback about whether it goes far enough: http://theseboots.travel/2010/01/09/balanced-fair-and-fun-theseboots-aims-to-blog-with-integrity/

      Thanks for always pushing us to be better bloggers.


    3. ZoeyjaneTuesday, January 12th, 2010 — 12:51am PST

      Thanks, Rebecca – I’d seen the buttons but wasn’t aware of where to find them and Googling was unsuccessful.

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