Forget Hashtags, Your Tweet May Need a Disclaimer

Advertisers be warned. The FTC is giving you more to consider as you tap into the inherent promotional power of social media, especially if your advertorial message requires a disclaimer.

Just as ads in other mediums require such to avoid being deemed deceptive or unfair, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is now looking into social media, Reuters is reporting.

The updated guidelines for online advertising represent the commission’s attempt to catch up to more than a decade of fast-evolving new technology, from the advent of the mobile revolution to an explosion in social media like Facebook and Twitter.

“Advertisers should make sure their disclosures are clear and conspicuous on all devices and platforms that consumers may use to view their ads,” the FTC’s Lesley Fair said today, announcing the report. “That means that if an ad would be deceptive or unfair (or would otherwise violate an FTC rule) without a disclosure — but the disclosure can’t be made clearly and conspicuously on a particular device or platform — then that ad shouldn’t run on that device or platform.”

Think you can trust a trusty old pop-up disclaimer to solve this social media marketing conundrum? Think again. The FTC is “discouraging” the use of pop-ups for disclosures due to how easily they can be blocked.

“Most webpages viewable on desktop devices may also be viewable on smartphones,” the FTC says. “Advertisers should design the website so that any necessary disclosures are clear and conspicuous, regardless of the device on which they are displayed.”

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