Disclosure: It’s Your Responsibility

A disclosure policy helps to inform visitors how the site content corresponds with and affects the user. The policy should be carefully endorsed in a clear and concise way that cannot be manipulated.

If your website is compensated for content by advertisers in the form of: endorsements, cash, or merchandise, or if you have hired staff to test and blog about a product, then your company should specifically disclose this information in the disclosure policy.

Blogging Disclosures for Compensation

In 2006, “PayPerPost” (now called, IZEA) established a work field of consumer generated advertising, therefore enabling bloggers to be compensated for blogging in the form of cash, endorsements, and products by businesses and professionals alike. These bloggers were referred to as Consumer Content Creators (CCC).

PayPerPost took off like a rocket in their first year of business. Within that time frame, criticism and feedback about not providing a disclosure statement of such compensation forever changed online blogging.

CCC were to test and review products, businesses, and websites. A large majority of the data blogged about was not tested or researched, therefore falsifying information, and these contributors were being paid for it. PayPerPost failed to show endorsements for adverts, companies, or products on their sites causing uproar throughout the world.

Federal Trade Commission on PayPerPost

The Federal Trade Commission wants visitors and potential buyers of services and products to be informed of advertising and testing of these products, services, and companies. This testing and reviewing of products, services and companies is to happen during exposure to the subject matter. Use direct and understandable wording when explaining your views on said products, services, and companies, and have it where the visitor can see it by linking the post or page directly to your Disclosure Policy.

Disclosure for Private Sites

Disclosures on private sites are generally written and edited by the site owner. These sites don’t usually receive compensation in the form of cash, sponsorship,  advertising, or site content. At a time where compensation is received it is the responsibility of the site owner to tell the visitors of these changes.

Disclosure policy for a private site.

Standards for Professional and Commercial Sites

Make sure any endorsements, adverts, services, or products displayed or talked about on the website are disclosed. Is there compensation in any way for these, if so explain. Make the disclosure readily available to the visitor, to let them know what is transpiring with the content.

Disclosure policy for a professional or commercial site.

Don’t Get Confused

Disclosure is mandatory for most but not all websites. If you want to cover all bases within the “legal” part of your site, create a disclosure policy. In the end you are thoroughly protecting you and your visitors while keeping everyone up to date on your site’s purpose.

Disclosure Policy Generators and Templates

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3 thoughts on “Disclosure: It’s Your Responsibility”

  1. Great coverage on the topic, and encouragement by proving it really is the responsibility and not the law. Disclosure policies are so critical and often aspects are overlooked or maybe unthought of. When creating a disclosure policy I like to mentally work through the steps of how the site operates with it’s end users and then consider what type of emvironment is necessary. Get people to test it out- Why should a person consider the type of interaction, compensation of any type, advertisement opportunities, cost, and potential set backs or risk. Well because, it is a free personal protection plan for you and your viewers, proactive planning for future success, and protection over your assets. I look forward to reading more of your coverage.

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