Will FTC's New Rules Impact Business Blogs?

issued this week

1. If your business lets employees blog on the company's site, be careful about any endorsements made. Be sure to update company policies about blogging to include full disclosure. And realize that if a lab tech tests out a piece of software or hardware, he or she needs to be sure to tell whether it was a freebie.

2. Everyone loves publicity, right? Right -- but now the FTC is making sure everyone knows the publicist. Say you are CEO of a great company with great products. And you enjoy (even encourage) your employees posting items on Twitter and their social networking pages, and one writes: "Just loaded Dude Software and it rocks!" Well, according to the FTC, if that blogger works for Dude Software, he or she needs to say that, on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc. And, yes, the same applies even on Twitter.

3. If you can't say anything nice about the competition, don't say anything at all -- unless you are willing to say who you are and where you work. That stipulation is part of the new rules, which go into effect Dec. 1. However, the mandate has roots that extend two years. Back in 2007, John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, often posted disparaging remarks about competitor Wild Oats Markets on Yahoo's bulletin boards under the name "rahodeb." He also talked up his own company's stock and operation. The Securities and Exchange Commission investigated and ultimately took no action, but Mackey shut down his blog.

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