Tags: ads | social | media | disclosure

FTC: Ads in Social Media Must Show Disclosure

By    |   Tuesday, 12 March 2013 11:54 PM

The Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday made it mandatory for all ads appearing on social media sites to be accompanied by disclosures to avoid deceptive practices.

The FTC updated an already-existing rule to include Twitter, Facebook and other mobile sites, USA Today reports.

The new rule “takes into account the expanding use of smartphones with small screens and the rise of social-media marketing,” the FTC said in a statement.

“The updated guidance emphasizes that consumer protection laws apply equally to marketers across all mediums.”

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In 2000, the consumer protection agency issued a set of rules, known as Dot Com Disclosures, that required anyone advertising online to provide “clear and conspicuous” disclosures for ads that could lead to deception and unfair practices without the accompanying fine print.

But with all the technological leaps made on the digital ad landscape since then, an update was absolutely necessary.

“All the regulatory agencies are desperately trying to catch on with the reality of the mobile ecosystem,” says John Simpson, Privacy Project director at Consumer Watchdog.

“It's really important that they've taken that step."

Whether the FTC can keep up with a lot of practices is still an open question.

Under the new rule, advertisers must place the disclosure on any and all devices consumers may use to view the ad.

If the disclosure can't be made clearly and conspicuously on the device or platform, the FTC recommends avoiding the product or service in question.

Whereas the 2000 guidance called on advertisers to place the disclosure “near, and when possible, on the same screen” as the ad.

The update, acknowledging the limits of a cell phone screen, says disclosures should be “as close as possible” to the ad claim.

The move by the FTC will hopefully protect the consumer in a somewhat discreet manner.

“In this day and age, you should be able to figure out how to disclose without hurting the user experience,” Simpson says.

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The Federal Trade Commission made it mandatory for all ads appearing on social media sites to be accompanied by disclosures to avoid deceptive practices.
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Tuesday, 12 March 2013 11:54 PM
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