How to Handle FTC Disclosure Requirements

Cash fines for violating FTC guidelinesAs most of you know, the FTC recently made advertisers liable for affiliates who fail to disclose their relationship to the advertiser and employers liable for employees who make false or unsubstantiated statements in social media regarding the company’s products or services.  In fact, many folks are surprised to learn that their participation in the Amazon Associates program — where anyone can get paid for linking to a book on Amazon — makes you an affiliate within the scope of these guidelines.

Technology is rushing to catch up to the needs of advertisers and employers who feel challenged to comply with these FTC requirements, so here are a few suggestions:

Employers

  1. Update your social media policies to reflect the FTC guidelines
  2. Educate your employees — ALL of them
  3. Ensure that your social media listening and monitoring capabilities filter for relevant employee statements
  4. Define and implement a process for handling employee statements that create liability for the company, once they are identified through your listening and monitoring capabilities
  5. Consider implementing one of the emerging technology solutions that aspire to provide scalable, auditable and compliant disclaimers for companies.

Advertisers

  1. Determine the appropriate disclaimers that your affiliates should implement and when they should use them
  2. Define appropriate policies for your affiliates and publish them to your affiliates, as required by FTC guidelines
  3. Consider implementing a technology solution that will automate disclosure standardization, audit trails and analytics

CMP.ly is a new software firm that aims to deliver a scalable compliance management solution which they say will automate FTC-required audit trails with supporting analytics.  I do not know whether CMP.ly will win the race to provide a scalable compliance management solution, but they seem to be headed in the right direction.


DISCLOSURE

I have no relationship with CMP.ly, and I provided the above information about their solution based on phone conversations with their CEO and reviews of their product documentation.

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