As you may recall, early in 2010, the FTC implemented new rules and regulations regarding disclaimers to be used on websites where the website owner earns commissions through affiliate sales or other means.
Internet marketers were all up in arms over this and, in many cases, rightly so. As with so many other things, these new rules and regulations put an increased burden on the honest sellers while doing very little, in fact, to harm the ones that are actually hurting customers.
But, I digress...
The bottom line is that these rules and regulations are here to stay and we just have to learn to live with them.
Still, they were very confusing, so a couple months ago, the FTC released a final set of guidelines which clarifies things for website owners and describes how disclosures must be made. These rules go into effect on January 1st, so you need to make sure that you are ready for them.
First, all disclosures must be made prominent. You should have a dedicated disclosure page. The link to this page needs to be included in your navigation system, whether you use a row of links in your header, down a sidebar or across the bottom. The important thing is that this disclosure page must be linked from within your primary navigation system.
That means that, if you are using a sidebar for navigation, you can't just bury the disclaimer page link at the bottom of the page. It must be included with your primary navigational links.
On pages where you are actually promoting a product, a disclaimer must be displayed at both the top and the bottom of the page. This disclaimer needs to be in type at least one point size larger than your typical body type. So, no hiding it in tiny print!
Also, each place you have a link to a product you are promoting, you must include a link to your disclaimer page, like this: productNameLink [DISCLAIMER], where the word "DISCLAIMER" is a hyperlink to your disclaimer page.
I know these steps are rather onerous and a royal pain in the neck, but these are rules we will simply have to put up with. Despite earlier claims to the contrary, penalties for non-compliance DO, in fact, start at $11,000.
And, that would not be per individual or company, but per website. So, if you have 5 websites that are not in compliance, you're looking at fines starting at $55,000.
So, that is good reason to comply!
Of course, you can understand why the FTC is doing this. This post, for example, I largely made up. Yes, there are new rules and regulations, as most people are already aware, but the "guidelines" I've listed here are ones I just fabricated. But, watch the responses to this thread. You will see people that will not have read to this point and will complain about these new things that they have to start doing. If you've read to this point, you might be a little upset (sorry), but you'll soon see the point I am making when you read the replies. People don't read things all the way through; they largely read what they want to see, not necessarily what's there.
So, when you say someone COULD make $1,000 a day using your system, but that typical results are that people will make $10 a day, people will only see the $1,000 a day because that's the bit that they want to see. So, that's why the FTC wants things a little more prominent.
Of course, that's no reason to fear, because the same basic notion holds true, that people read what they want to see. There are threads here where follow-up posts will say in bright red letters that the initial premise of the thread was false, yet people still do not see it.
So, in a sense, it doesn't matter what the FTC wants you to display on your website to warn prospective buyers, they will continue to see what they want to see. You tell them typical results are that they will fail miserably, and they'll overlook it because they don't consider themselves "typical."
It is always amazing how things can be hidden in plain sight!
If you're an honest seller, you have no real reason to worry. People will continue to buy quality products.
Of course, that doesn't mean you still can't complain about new rules and regulations because a lot of times they prove to be more of an additional burden and headache than an effective means of stopping whatever they were intended to stop.