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Bloggers Speak Out About Changes to the FTC Guidelines on How To Make Effective Disclosures

Phyrra's Update on FTC Guidelines for Disclosure

Just the other day I wrote about the Update to FTC Guidelines on How to Make Effective Disclosures. I wanted to share what my new buttons will look like and what they mean. I have Skimlinks installed on my blog, and that automatically adds relevant links to posts. If you mouse over a link it will tell you if it is a Skimlink link. I manually add Amazon links on occasion when I’m trying to make it easier to show you where to purchase a product, as Amazon is usually cheaper than anyone else. I make pennies for each transaction. I also have ads in the right sidebar and in the header from BlogHer. I make pennies each time you click on those ads. As always, if you have any questions, please send me an email!

To be clear, these are USA laws that need to be followed by USA bloggers. If you are outside of the USA, I encourage you to check out your own country’s laws.

Raging Rouge

Image courtesy of Raging Rouge

PRESS SAMPLE/AFFILIATE LINKS
Press SampleAffiliate Links
If I was sent a product for consideration, this is what you will see. I have Skimlinks and Amazon, both of which I use for Affiliate Links.

I BOUGHT THIS/AFFILIATE LINKS
I Bought ThisAffiliate Links
If I purchased something, this is what you will see. I have Skimlinks and Amazon, both of which I use for Affiliate Links.

SPONSORED/ADVERTORIAL/AFFILIATE LINKS
SponsoredAffiliate Links
If I have a sponsored or advertorial post, this is what you will see. I have Skimlinks and Amazon, both of which I use for Affiliate Links.

PRESS SAMPLE / I BOUGHT THIS / AFFILIATE LINKS
Press SampleI Bought ThisAffiliate Links
If I’ve purchased some of the products in the post, and some were sent to me for consideration, this is what you will see. I have Skimlinks and Amazon, both of which I use for Affiliate Links.

I HAVE NOT PURCHASED BUT I WANT THIS/ LEMMING / LUSTING / AFFILIATE LINKS
Lusting AfterAffiliate Links
If I have not purchased an item, but I want to purchase it, and I think it’s cool enough to share with you, you will see something like this.

Now, many bloggers have shared their thoughts on this issue. I wanted to share links to all of their posts on the subject.

Raging Rouge – FTC Updates Disclosure Regulations Online
Beauty & Fashion Tech – For Bloggers: How to Comply With The New FTC Guidance on Disclosing Products Provided For Review
Beauty & Fashion Tech – For Bloggers: How To Make Disclosure Buttons For WordPress
Gouldylox Reviews – Full Disclosure
Beauty Info Zone – Our Policies and the new FTC Disclosure rules
15 Minute Beauty Fanatic – New Disclosures on 15 Minute Beauty
Pink Sith – FTC Update and Disclaimer
The Fabzilla – Changes
Beyond Beauty Lounge - What is all this FTC Disclosure Chatter anyway?
Polish Galore – FTC Updates to Disclosure Regulations
Vampy Varnish – Boring Ole FTC
Midnight Manicures – FTC Guidelines for Bloggers and How
Painted Ladies – New FTC Guidelines
Primed & Polished – Update to FTC
Portrait of Mai – Google Reader & FTC Disclosure Changes
Pammy Blogs Beauty -  FTC Updates & Full Disclosure
Hello Dollface – Bloggers Discuss Changes to FTC Guidelines
Beauty Judy – New FTC Disclosure Policies

I think the big question we all have is when will online magazines, and blogs that are extensions of online magazines, comply with the regulations? what about some of the larger blogs and vloggers? It’s sad when you realize that some people haven’t been complying at all and the changes went into effect in 2009. It’s 2013. That’s plenty of time to get used to the changes.

These guidelines are supposed to make it better for readers to that there is more transparency. Many of us have always disclosed, but I hope that now that the disclosure is at the top of the blog, no one will ever feel ‘tricked’ when they read a post and see whether or not the item was purchased or sent for consideration. I hope they will never feel ‘tricked’ if it is an advertorial or sponsored post. You can choose to read or not to read very easily before you even get into the meat of the post.

What do you think about these changes? Do you feel these changes should apply to all media, such as print media like magazines? Do you read any USA blogs or follow any USA youtube vloggers who do not currently disclose? Do you ever wonder about their reviews? Or does it not bother you?

Please share your thoughts!

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    • blueraccoon

      I absolutely think the guidelines should apply to all media, including magazines, newspapers, and their online versions. What’s the point in making a blogger like you, who has always said “I was sent this for review” shout it again and again, when a magazine talks about five different expensive lipsticks, picks one, but doesn’t disclose that any of those products were sent gratis? I don’t really read magazines anymore; I get better information, more accurate information, and more honest reviews than I do from magazines, plus I don’t have to pay $5 for it and kill a tree.
      There are some bloggers who disclose but who I still wonder about honesty with, just because they give rave reviews to something I’ve seen panned elsewhere, but at this point I know who I can rely on to tell me if a product sucks or not. I don’t understand why they should be held to a higher standard than people who do this for traditional media.

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        blueraccoon You always have to remember that sometimes a product that works great for one person will not work great for another. I could not get the NARS soft touch shadow pencils (eyeshadow pencils) to work for me at all. They were horrible for me, but I’ve seen them work for other bloggers. So sometimes your individual body chemistry will influence how a product works for you.

        • blueraccoon

          Phyrra blueraccoon Oh, I know :) But there was one blogger I used to read–still do occasionally–where I would see a product get kind of universally panned elsewhere–problems like sheer pigment, chalky texture, powdery, etc., and she’d still rave about it, and disclosed that she’d received it. So I stopped trusting her opinions as much when it was about something she’d been sent. Not naming names because I don’t want to do that, but not every blogger is as honest as you are *g*

          • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

            blueraccoon thank you <3 I was so frustrated that I couldn’t get the Buxom Stay there shadows to work for me, either. They have a shadow named Poodle and one named Pug. I was sooo sad I couldn’t get them to work for me, but they worked fine for others.

    • http://www.portraitofmai.com/ Mai at Portrait of Mai

      The problem with disclosures does not lie solely with bloggers. The FTC is missing the boat if they think we’re the ones that need to be regulated. Why is it that magazines are allowed to say what they can without disclosing whether they’ve received the product for consideration (which they most often do) or whether they’ve been paid to feature the product (which they often have been). Some magazine articles are just print advertising with some editorial words added, at least some bloggers don’t exist just to sell something.

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        Mai at Portrait of Mai I don’t know how sites affiliated with magazines can do what they do. I don’t know why there are still bloggers not disclosing in 2013. I do agree that the FTC doesn’t seem to be looking at the big picture.

    • http://xoxoalexisleigh.com/ xoxoalexisleigh

      This is so ridiculous! It’s crazy to think that there’s so much pressure on us bloggers to disclose whether we’ve received free products in exchange for a review because we aren’t reaching nearly as many viewers and we aren’t influencing nearly as many reader’s as large magazines are. Also, I hate the fact that posting (paraphrasing) “We got this for FREE!!!” all over our blog is mostly likely just going to make us look like we’re gloating. I don’t post about free products because I want to rub it in my reader’s faces that I got something for free and they did not, I do it to provide them with my opinion on products.

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        xoxoalexisleigh I’ve never felt like bloggers were gloating when they said ‘Product sent for consideration.’ Though I can certainly see why some people would be bothered by that.

    • http://project-swatch.com/ Emi at Project Swatch

      I noticed that Temptalia changed her disclosure policy – it’s above the cut now, so you don’t have to click through to see it if you’re on the main page, plus it now shows in the RSS feed (it didn’t before). I think the wording is more clear, too. I actually like the change, I think it’s more transparent.
      Honestly, I don’t think the guidelines are such a bad thing, I like transparency and clear disclosures. I absolutely, definitely, think they need to apply to magazines (print plus online magazines) too, though!

    • Marcia beauty info zone

      Thanks for this. I’ve just updated my page to include this article.

    • KatieFrank_x

      It sucks that you guys have to jump through so many hoops :( .  I do like that you have to be transparent (though I trust most, if not all, of the bloggers I follow to be honest about products, free or not), but I think magazines and other media should have to comply too. It’s not fair otherwise. 
      I wonder if something like this will get imposed in the UK/EU soon.

    • tinabeana12

      I have read the FTC guidelines and maybe I’m crazy but I don’t read into it the same way as everyone else. To me, it sounds like a response to all the fashion bloggers I see who constantly use afflilate links for every single link and never disclose such. I see so many of them use rewardstyle links on Facebook and Twitter too with absolutely not disclosure.  In fact, most HIDE the rewardstyle link within a bitly link so you can’t tell until you click it.  I disclose is every single post to say whether I “got it free” or if an affiliate link is used. Why should I disclose TWO times in very post AND have a disclosure page? Especially when these other bloggers disclose their free clothing/shoes/handbags/jewelry only by using the term “c/o suchandsuch company”.  I feel like I’m going overboard when others are doing nothing and making money from it too!  I am just not ready to make these changes because I am not hiding anything and don’t like being made to feel as if I am!

    • http://beautyjudy.com/ BeautyJudy

      Great post and thank you for compiling the thoughts of many bloggers. I understand disclosing but I think it’s extreme. And I want to see ALL online media held accountable!!!

    • BrilliantBrntte

      I feel that if the FTC is going to continue putting all these regulations on bloggers, they should be doing it with all forms of similar media, especially magazines. Working in makeup, I have SO many people ask me about products they’ve seen or heard amazing things about in magazines. These magazines never disclose anything and have quite a lot of influence on buyers. Granted bloggers influence bloggers too, but if we have to follow these guidelines, so should everyone else, especially considering that many magazines operate blogs as well. 
      Of course, I personally will be following the guidelines. However, there will always be people who don’t and those are the bloggers that readers should be wary of. I suppose it’s time to get on making my disclosure buttons! :|

    • Pingback: Updates to my Disclosure Policy & More | Phyrra | Beauty for the Bold

    • Jedi Ana

      I’m late looking at this, but I think a big thing to remember is that the FTC guidelines only apply to US bloggers. While that’s probably most of them, there’s thousands of bloggers (*COUGH*) who aren’t from the United States, and so don’t legally have to disclose anything. I think it’s great to see people disclosing and I like the sleek buttons you’ll be using to make everything clear, but I think it’s always important to take everything with a healthy pinch of salt & scepticism. 
      Online, we often don’t realise where people live or where they’re writing from, and it’s important to remember that, since the rules only apply to American bloggers, if you don’t see someone disclosing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they bought the product, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re dishonest, either. Although I think it’s good practice for everyone to disclose everything anyway.

    • Disneyrollergirl

      Hello, i have a question!  What is the definition of a sponsored post? I feel this is a grey area. I tend to avoid posts where a brand says we need this many words and you need to mention this phrase and include that link.  But what I do do is sometimes work with brands where I’ve done an event or project with them and as part of the deal there is an understanding to also ‘share the content via my social channels’. So I usually label those ‘sponsored posts’ because someone has paid me to write them (in as much as I probably wouldn’t have written them otherwise). But other bloggers insist that this is not technically a ‘sponsored post’. I dunno, I feel that readers just want to know, were you paid or not? And if you were, they want that to be communicated.
      About putting the ‘sponsored post’ label right at the top of the post. I don’t like doing this as I think my ‘sponsored posts’ are still worth reading and i don’t want people to dismiss them and scroll past!

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        DisneyrollergirlI asked a fellow blogger who says:
        “I
        don’t think I would call sponsored what she does. A brand might ask
        that I share something in social media, and I might do that to be nice,
        but I don’t view the product as payment for that. But if she feels that
        something is paid, then she has to disclose it before she “endorses it”
        meaning before she says something good about it and also before any
        links out. She doesn’t have to stick a label at the top of the post, but
        she cant hide it at the end either.”
        “Even
        if something is not “sponsored” as in not paid, the fact that she
        received a press sample still must be disclosed. That too must also be
        disclosed before the product is endorsed and before any links.”

    • manicuredslayer

      All this makes me dizzy.
      I also review books and I had an author who was NOT happy that I had to disclose–he felt it put a negative slant on my review (I loved it) and on him.
      I’ve not gotten anything for “free” in ages. I’m not a professional blogger, not trying to be (you work DARN HARD Phyrra! I admire that so much but it has to be more than a full-time job!!). 
      I suppose i need to read up and see what I need to do though. If I have to go back and edit previous posts, I’m not gonna be happy :P

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        manicuredslayer you do not have to go back and edit old posts. He needs to get over it, it’s the law in the USA. Sorry that he’s put  you in an uncomfortable position.

    • http://www.glambunctious.com glambunctious

      I feel like if you’ve been reading a blog for a while you can gauge whether or not their reviews are honest.  There are blogs I’ve read for years and I’ve grown to trust their opinions over time because I believe their reviews and recommendations to be honest.  If a blogger always gives top ratings, it does make me question their methods, but in the end it’s about building trust with the blogs you follow.  I find the policies a bit much because forcing people to state when they received something gratis and that their review is honest doesn’t necessarily mean it is.  It’s still your choice whether you believe it to be honest or not.  Beauty/skincare products are seriously eye of the beholder/user, so even if something works well for one, it may not work at all for someone else and that doesn’t necessarily mean one person isn’t sharing their honest results.  Anywho, that’s my two cents (more like .56 cents), Phyrra! :)  And you are one of the bloggers that I feel I can trust because you just seem to be a very sincere, no BS person and I get that from your posts!

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        glambunctious I will freely admit I try to only accept products to review that I am genuinely interested in, in hopes of writing less negative reviews because I’d rather write about the good than the bad. And when products don’t live up to my expectations, but might work for someone else, I do say that. I completely agree with you that a product that might work well for one person may not work for another. Thank you for your vote of confidence :)

        • http://www.glambunctious.com glambunctious

          Phyrra Thank you for your great reply, Phyrra!  You are bomb!  I agree with everything you wrote 100%. :)