Posts Tagged ‘Federal Trade Commission’

5 Legal Considerations for Your Social Media Campaign

Published by pratyushkp on July 12th, 2011 - in Social, Technology

Image by Gary Hayes via Flickr

Post from Mashable authered by Gonzalo E. Mon

Gonzalo E. Mon is a partner in the Advertising Law practice at Kelley Drye & Warren LLP. Read more on Kelley Drye’s advertising blog, Ad Law Access, or keep up with the group on Facebook or Twitter.

Most companies enjoy the benefits of having a social media presence, but not every company also appreciates the legal risks that can lurk there. Companies have run into legal problems, and been forced to defend their social media campaigns in public, in front of regulators or in courts.

All of this, however, can be mediated with a little knowledge and forethought. Although each social media campaign should be evaluated individually, there are at least five legal considerations every company should note. Continue reading “5 Legal Considerations for Your Social Media Campaign” »

3 Important Legal Considerations for Bloggers

Published by pratyushkp on June 16th, 2011 - in Social, Technology

Image via Wikipedia

Article from Mashable. Author – Nellie Akalp

Nellie Akalp is the CEO of, an online legal document filing service. Nellie helps small business owners form an LLC or incorporate a business. To learn more about Nellie and how she can help your business get off the ground quickly and affordably, please visit here.

Blogging has grown up more quickly than anyone imagined. There are now nearly 163 million blogs worldwide with more than 69 thousand blogs created every 24 hours. But blogging isn’t just the purview of hobbyists; the ever-expanding blog industry features top-performing businesses that bring in serious revenue. Blogs have given platforms to a collection of original voices, provocative opinions and a wealth of knowledge.

Even though blogging has become a serious industry, some new bloggers may not consider its legal aspects. If you’re a self-employed or self-starting blogger, here are some of the key things to keep in mind as you navigate the legal and business aspects of your blog:

Do You Have Liability Concerns?

While running an in-home childcare center or launching a catering business seem like naturally risky professions, it’s hard to imagine that sitting behind a computer can put you at any real risk of a lawsuit. Still, there are some serious liability issues for bloggers. What if you unintentionally plagiarize someone’s work? Or maybe you end up writing about a mobile phone prototype left at a bar? What if you can’t pay your vendors? What happens if you’re fined by the FTC or named in a class-action lawsuit for positively reviewing a defective product?

Most bloggers are probably aware that back in December 2009, the FTC revised their guidelines to bring social media and Internet advertisers into the mix. At the heart of this revision was a concern that it was becoming increasingly difficult to recognize an “advertisement” in social media. In 2010 the ruling reverberated throughout the marketing world and the blogosphere. Controversy surrounded Twitter, high profile celebrities, and improperly disclosed sponsor relationships. As a result, every blogger needs to be aware of the guidelines and take some simple steps to minimize their liability.

Step 1: Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure!

Bloggers need to disclose any “material relationship” with an advertiser or brand. This relationship can encompass anything from receiving cash, free tickets, or a free product in exchange for a product review or blog post.

For example, Joe is a video game expert who blogs about his gaming experiences. A manufacturer sends him a free game and asks him to write about it. Accepting this free game creates a material relationship that must be disclosed, or else Joe can face substantial fines. Beyond these legal considerations, disclosure is good practice that maintains a level a trust between the blogger and his or her audience.

Step 2: Talk About What Consumers Can “Generally Expect”

It’s no longer acceptable for an advertiser (or blog review) to make outrageous claims (I made $50,000 last month from home; I lost 50 pounds in 2 months; I look 25 years younger overnight) only to put a “results not typical” disclaimer in fine print. Advertisers and bloggers are bound to disclose results that “consumers can generally expect.” Failure to comply can result in substantial fines, actions by the State Attorney General, consumer protection lawsuits, or consumer-driven class-action suits. In most cases the company itself will be the defendant, but a participating blogger could be named in such a lawsuit.

Step 3: Incorporate or Form an LLC

Most self-employed business owners start thinking about incorporation in order to reduce their tax burden (if you’re paying self-employment taxes, you know what I mean). However, the main benefit of incorporating your blog or forming an LLC is the separation of your personal and business finances, thus minimizing your personal liability.

The LLC and Corporation (either S Corp or C Corp) protects a business owner’s personal assets from any liability of the company. So if your blog happens to be sued or fined, your personal assets, such as property or a savings account, are shielded from any judgment. On the other hand, if you’re sued as a sole proprietor, you’ll be sued personally. This means that your personal assets are at risk.

The other important factor to know is that creditor judgments can actually last up to 22 years. If you’re sued today, your personal assets will still be vulnerable throughout that time period. Keep in mind that, while you might just be starting out without few significant personal assets today, you should be protecting the assets you’ll earn tomorrow.

I’m not a fan of scare tactics, but I am a fan of education. Most likely, you’ll never run into any sort of problems with your blog. However, just in case, it’s best to shield your personal assets through an LLC or Corp, to use some common sense when choosing your advertising/marketing partners, and always to err on the side of transparency.

  • Disclosure regarding Third Party Contributors on the TurboTax Blog (
  • Couponing Bloggers Best Practices and Case Study (
  • ProBlogger’s Guide to Blogging for Your Business (
  • How and why marketers should attract female bloggers (
  • Bloggers Mulling Legal Action Against Righthaven (
  • The Team Behind My Blogs: From Solo Blogger to Business (

Google Apologizes for Not Protecting User Privacy

Published by pratyushkp on April 4th, 2011 - in Social, Technology

It is now liable for independent reviews of its privacy procedures every two years for the next two decades

Last year, Google Buzz was blamed for failing to protect user data and accessing contacts books of users.

Google Appliance as shown at RSA Expo 2008 in ...

Image via Wikipedia

Google Buzz social network built inside Gmail turned out to be first ever privacy

protection horror for the company. Now, Google has finally

made peace with the Federal Trade Commission and apologized for the mistakes made with the Buzz service and ensured that the new privacy procedures would protect the interests of users. Too late for it, I suppose, as several users must have already stopped using it.

Privacy Group had filed a complaint with the FTC accusing Google for following ‘deceptive privacy practices’. The FTC stated that Google has violated the FTC Act by not informing the users about the privacy measures and didn’t offer them an option to decline or leave the social network service. Also, Google failed to obtain user’s permission to enable Buzz social network in advance.

Jon Leibowitz, Chairman of the FTC, said in the release: “This is a tough settlement that ensures that Google will honor its commitments to consumers and build strong privacy protections into all of its operations.”

Alma Whitten, Direct of Privacy (Product & Engineering) with Google, stated on its official blog:

Today, we’ve reached an agreement with the FTC to address their concerns. We’ll receive an independent review of our privacy procedures once every two years, and we’ll ask users to give us affirmative consent before we change how we share their personal information.

Google will implement a new privacy program and will also be liable for independent reviews of the privacy procedures every two years for the next two decades. WHOA! That’s a big one. So basically, Google goofed up over privacy, accepted its mistake and is now moving on.

Recently, Facebook‘s privacy debacle forced it to create a simplified privacy policy. We hope both the giants will ensure not to goof up on users privacy anymore.

  • Google Settles With FTC Over Privacy Concerns and “Deceptive Tactics” of Google Buzz (
  • Google Buzz Agreement Reached With FTC (
  • What the Google Buzz-FTC Settlement Means for the “Apology Approach” to Innovation (
  • Google settles FTC complaint over Buzz (
  • Social Irony: FTC Rules on Buzz Privacy Stampede (
  • Google settles Buzz privacy case with FTC, apologizes (
  • Google settles FTC complaint over Buzz (
  • FTC To Audit Google Regularly Following Buzz Investigation (
  • Google Settles FTC Complaint over Google Buzz Privacy (
  • Google apologises for Buzz privacy issues (

Facebook Test’s New Feature

Published by pratyushkp on September 6th, 2010 - in Social, Technology

Facebook has unveiled a new ’subscribe’ feature for select users for testing purpose that will allow users to get notifications and alerts whenever a friend updates their profile.

Facebook is testing a new feature known as “subscribe feature” that will allow users to get notifications whenever another Facebook user uses the social-networking site to update their status or share photos with friends. The new feature will Facebook users to select which friends or family members they want to receive “alerts” from whenever there is any activity on their Facebook profile.

This new feature which is rolled out to select user to test their responses has led to widespread criticism from critics who call it a stalking tool. They fear that it night be mi-used by people and are hoping that the feature comes with an option to accept or not.

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