Social Media and Mobile Advertising Needs Proper Disclosure, FTC Says

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In order to avoid deceptive practices, digital ads on social media networks and mobile phones need to have proper disclosures, Federal Trade Commission rules. The Commission updated the “Dot Com Disclosures” guidance issued in 2000 in order to adapt it to new online and mobile environment.

.com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising includes examples of ads that illustrate the updated principles which emphasize that consumer protection laws apply on all devices and mediums.

“Our new guidelines focus on two trends – one, the movement toward advertising seen on small screens and how you make disclosures useful, clear and conspicuous to consumers,” said Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen in New Orelans at the 4As conference, “and two, the use of social media for marketing.”

“All the regulatory agencies are desperately trying to catch on with the reality of the mobile ecosystem,” explained John Simpson, Privacy Project director at Consumer Watchdog, cited by USA Today. “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. It’s very easy to capitalize on the big names in social media. “

The new guidelines mention that it is incorrect to use hyperlinks for “disclaimer” or “more information” and that the total cost must be stipulated before a purchase is made. Marketers and advertisers also need to take in consideration that consumers don’t usually scroll a long ad to find complete details, therefore they need to have instant access to clear and information; advertising shouldn’t be misleading.

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