Revisiting FTC Disclosures

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I will reiterate: I am not a lawyer and the content below is not legal advice. This is a recap and interpretation of the information provided by the FTC and can be found HERE

The FTC-Queen is back!

This isn’t my first (or last) post about guidelines, but I wanted to revisit FTC disclosures; especially for all the newbies out there! Back in 2015 I wrote a post about Giveaways, and how A LOT of bloggers are holding these illegally. One about Privacy, and how obtain and use the information provided to you. Then, in 2016, I wrote an informative post about FTC guidelines, and how to remain compliant.

I’ve been asked on several occasions to clarify FTC guidelines, and my curiosity got the better of me. I took to Twitter and did a poll:

I am… rather shocked, that 40% don’t even know what the FTC is??

Honestly, I am surprised at the low votes on #3; not gonna lie. Simply because after all this time, I still see bloggers hosting “illegal” giveaways, and not adhering to the FTC guidelines; especially on Instagram. I don’t consider myself the “guideline police” per-se, but I do find it disconcerting when individuals don’t educate themselves on it. If I know the information, I feel semi-obligated to share. Thus, here we are!


Keep in mind, you don’t HAVE to follow my advice, but at least use it to educate yourself and take it into consideration. There are numerous resources, and you can get all of this information on the… FTC website. 

Not much has changed honestly – but there’s been a lot more elaboration to social media posts, and how to post about those endorsements.

First and foremost, and this is a given, anytime you receive ANYTHING from a company to endorse and/or review, yes that means a free book, you must disclose it. Most bloggers know this, and even do this. But what we might get tripped up, is when we cross-post. Goodreads, Amazon, etc. And when we are discussing said product and not “reviewing” it.

Your readers need to know, and understand, the relationship.

I see blanket statements on a blog’s sidebar that state they “receive books for free from the publishers in exchange for and honest review,” and while this is nice, it needs to be on every. single. post. Your readers need to know, and understand, the relationship. 

Not only must you disclose that you received said item, you must disclose every time you endorse said product. This again, would be more common on social media.

That being said, you cannot review, or praise to a product, you haven’t tried. You also can’t praise a product you disliked. Basically, you can’t LIE. I would assume this is… obvious.

How to disclose on social media

When promoting items on social media that you are endorsing, the hashtags #ad – #sponsored – #promotion – generally suffice. However, those hashtags needs to be on the TOP or BEGINNING of the post, so the reader is able to see it clearly, without hitting a READ MORE link/button. I’m looking at you, Instagram. 

Here are a few other key points to keep in mind:

  • You must also disclose, in every post, your relationship with the/a “company” – i.e., a rep – because even if you purchased an item, your relationship with that “company” is contingent on your endorsement of their products as a whole.
  • If you receive a coupon code for yourself, or others, you need to disclose your relationship, and #ad in your social medical posts.
  • Each time you make an endorsement about a product you received, it must be disclosed.

General rule: if your readers/followers do not understand your relationship, you must disclose.

Whew. Confused yet? I know, it’s a lot. And I haven’t even gone into as much detail as I’m known for. And I will admit, and so will the FTC, that these policies are generally not policed, unless an issue is brought to their attention. 

It’s unethical to not disclose. 

But, let’s put that aside for the moment. How upset would you be you purchased items based on a review, yet they were paid to say those things and you didn’t know? Hell, maybe you wont care; a lot do though, including myself. It’s just unethical to NOT disclose.

Food For Thought

How many of you knowingly ignore the guidelines provided by the FTC? Yet, you wonder why the integrity of Book Bloggers is questioned, and why we’re not taken more seriously? 

I mean….

Let’s Chat

  • Are you familiar with the strict FTC guidelines?
  • Do you disclose? 
  • Did you vote!? What was your vote?
  • Would you be bothered by purchasing an item based on it’s endorsement, only to then find out they were paid?
  • Have more questions? Ask below or send me an email!

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9 thoughts on “Revisiting FTC Disclosures

  1. Tanya @ Rantings of a Reading Addict

    I disclose on my blog posts, and I think I have that set to send straight to GR as well. I’ll have to check my reviews there to see if that piece of info translates over. I DO forget on social media. Most of the time my posts on SM are not reviews, they are just the “look what I’m reading” type of posts, and those probably should have a disclosure on them if I received them from the publisher, but I tend to forget. I’m horrible at hashtags. I need a good reminder on the FTC regulations regarding giveaways. I’ll have to look that up. It’s been awhile.

  2. Melanie Simmons

    I put a statement on my posts and on Goodreads. I’m not good about it on social. I will also admit to muting #ad, #promo, #sponsored on my Twitter feed (which is my primary social media platform). I will say that, in my eyes, there’s a difference between paid review and free in exchange for review. I’m sure that isn’t the case for everyone, including the FTC. I’m not at all skeptical of free in exchange for review, because I do that and will write bad reviews, as will many of my friends. I don’t know that I know anyone who gets actual money for reviews. I’m not sure if people who do that are honest or not. I would hope so. I’m not usually caught up in celebrity endorsements because so many will say anything for a product to get a buck (not all, but several). Great post and thanks for sharing.
    Melanie Simmons recently posted…Watcher in the Woods Audiobook by Kelley Armstrong (REVIEW)My Profile

    1. tonyalee

      There IS a difference between being paid, and being given the item for free to review – but the end result is the same: to promote the item. I’m not skeptical of either one, as long as it’s disclosed.

      Not getting money for our reviews is kind of my point – we’re the only community that doesn’t get paid. Even in other forums I am part of, they will reiterate over and over their bad history working with book bloggers, and the “integrity” of our reviews (which is BS but another topic for another day). If we don’t take it seriously, how will the industry change? Yes, a lot of us promote and do this because we love it. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t/couldn’t make money, ya know?

      Agree about celebrities! I don’t follow any.

    2. Mary Had a Little Book Blog

      I was once paid for a review. I was contacted by a marketing company (not the author or publisher) and offered a small fee in exchange for a review. Yes, it’s different than only receiving a product (like a book) for review, but only in that I had to make a different kind of disclosure on my post and had to sign paperwork. I approached the book and the review in the exact same way I approach books I receive from publishers, borrow from friends, receive as gifts, borrow from the library, or purchase myself. I don’t feel I compromised my integrity because I accepted payment for my work. I still reviewed the book honestly; the money was just a nice perk.
      Mary Had a Little Book Blog recently posted…Mary’s Minute: Bad Girls Do It WellMy Profile

  3. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    I always put disclosures on my reviews on my blog, on Goodreads and Amazon, but I’ll confess that I put it at the end of my review, not at the beginning. I don’t really review books on Instagram–the most I’ll say is something like I’m looking forward to reading a book and I’ll thank whoever for giving it to me.

    Now, the one area where I could see an issue is if I talk about the book later—like I will go on and on about how I love certain books and I don’t really think about where I got that book from past the review date. So, for instance, if I do a top ten books of 2018 post, I don’t specify which books were given to me for review. I never really thought about the fact that I’m still “endorsing” the book at that point. Hmmm…. I don’t know.
    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction recently posted…Sunday Post: Book Pre-Order Deals & Giveaways Galore – 2/24/19My Profile

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