FTC Gets Tough on Social Media Disclosure


In response to the US Federal Trade Commission’s first settlement with an advertiser over a failure to comply with the FTC’s Dotcom Disclosure Guidelines, Comply Socially has released a Social Media Disclosure & Transparency certification program to help advertisers and brand marketers mitigate the risks of provoking deceptive advertising claims.

Disclosure2The new Social Media Disclosure and Transparency certification training program is comprised of 11 short, live-action, HD videos with broadcast-quality screencast demos with  SCORM compliant multiple choice assessments and is now available online.   

The certification can be earned by purchasing the course individually and achieving an 80% or greater score. It is is also available as part of a four-course Social Media Risk & Compliance Bundle or with an annual subscription to the full Comply Socially social media literacy and compliance training library.  

The Social Media Disclosure and Transparency certification was introduced to help organizations and individuals comply with the FTC social media disclosure guidelines, and to furnish an auditable record that such training was been completed.

The Social Media Disclosure & Transparency Certification course — which helps advertisers fulfill their compliance obligations by teaching employees what types of shares and tweets require disclosures, and how to include them on all the major social networks – comes on the heels of the FTC’s first settlement against an advertiser for rallying agency employees to promote a client on their personal Twitter profiles without the required disclosures, and nearly 5 years after the FTC’s dispute with a public relations firm for compensating bloggers in exchange for favorable posts.

Disclosure3“The FTC expects marketers to disclose affiliations on Twitter. Our solutions gives brands, advertisers and public relations practitioners an easy, affordable way to ensure their employees understand their disclosure obligations,” said Eric Schwartzman, founder of social media training provider Comply Socially, which maintains the largest library of on-demand social media compliance and literacy certification programs. “As more sales and customer service reps turn to Twitter, training your staff on social media disclosure and transparency just became much more important,” continued Mr. Schwartzman.

Forty-six percent of consumers trust online reviews, while only 15% trust posts by companies or brands on social networks, according to a report by Forrester Research.  The disclosure requirements exist to help avoid confusion that could arise when someone endorses a brand, product or service on their blog or on a social network like Facebook or Twitter.  The idea is to make sure people know whether or not the person making the endorsement was compensated for what they posted or tweeted.  That way, organizations can’t hide paid endorsements form consumers.

The FTC requirements also mandate that disclosures be “clear and conspicuous,” which means close in proximity to the claim, prominent enough to be easily distinguishable, unavoidable and in the same format as the claim.  The use of links for disclosures are discouraged, except when the media or content basically requires it.