Caution: Blogging Lawsuits Ahead!

By: Carol Tice

Every marketing expert you've ever met has probably encouraged you to start a blog on your website to help drive traffic and get your company site good search rankings. But be warned that you'll want to watch what you say on both your own and others' sites, as new laws governing online speech took effect last week.

Why should you care if you shoot your mouth off on the internet? Because the rules of defamation and slander apply to what you write online just as they do to newspaper articles or any other form of speech, notes New York City attorney Nina Kaufman of Ask The Business Lawyer. Folks are getting sued for making up lies about people online, and they're getting hit with big fines, too.

Besides the longstanding rule--don't say things that aren't true--what are the new rules?

1. Bloggers who are paid or receive free products in exchange for product reviews must disclose that fact in their blog.

2. If an endorser in an online ad approved one formula of your product but you changed the formula or introduced a new version, the endorser must be asked to approve the new one--you can't just keep on using their image to promote your products.

3. In the past, you could show one person who got amazing results with your product and make it all good with the disclaimer "results not typical." Now that's history. Ads have to show typical results for your product.

For more, read the Federal Trade Commission's fact sheet about the new laws. And blog safe, everybody.


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