Having both a Disclaimer Statement and a Disclosure Policy for your blog is something to strongly consider. It’s important to understand that although both start with the letter “D”, they are two different things.
The Disclaimer Statement
A disclaimer is usually made in a statement form that clarifies certain aspects of your blog content in order to hold you harmless from prosecution. Disclaimer Statements are usually found in the sidebar of a blog but can also be on their own page.
You can write whatever you want in your disclaimer but here is a list of things you may want to include:
- This Is A Blog – Make sure to categorize your blog as just that, a blog. Websites are not filled with dynamic content and don’t enable conversation while blogs do, so it is important to correctly categorize yourself to help manage your readers expectations
- Your Blog Is Your Opinion – Be sure to state that your blog is your personal views and opinions and not those of your employer, any associations you are a member of, or organizations you may volunteer with. Not including this statement may lead others to believe that you are making official statements on behalf of those entities
- Validation Of Your Content – blog content, by design, is dynamic. What you blog about today may in fact change over time, including your opinion! This is the natural evolution of blog content and is worth mentioning
- Non-liability Of Commentators – The ability to hold a conversation is one of the key differences between blogs and websites. You should make sure that you are not responsible or will be held liable for anything anyone says in the comments of your blog. Because blogs are global you may also want to consider indemnification for the laws which they may violate in THEIR country in addition to your own through the content, implication, and/or intent of their comment
- Make It Readable By The Average Person – While it’s completely acceptable to use legalese when writing your disclaimer, keep in mind that the average person reading your blog may not understand it. An average person should be able to understand your disclaimer with a degree in law or a translator
The Disclosure Policy
In 2009 the Federal Trade Commission published their Revised Guides Governing Endorsements and Testimonials. The changes made addressed blogs and marketers who use blogs as a platform for their products. Bloggers who receive either cash payment OR a free product from a manufacturer in exchange for a review are required to disclose this relationship. Receiving a free product for review is considered a form of payment since the blogger gets to keep the product, unlike a review unit that reviewers get and then return to the manufacturer after using it for a review. Whether or not you plan on doing reviews of products or receive payments for advertising on your blog, a disclosure policy is highly recommended.
Here are some key elements you should consider including in your disclosure policy:
- What type of blog you are writing – Is this a personal blog, a collaborative blog, or a blog sponsored by an organization or a group of organizations? Be sure to clearly define the type of blog you have
- The type of advertising/sponsorships your blog accepts if any – If you are accepting cash payments then state so. If you are accepting free products or service for review then state that as well. Even if you are not accepting any sort of payment or free products/services, then be sure to state that
- Content influenced by advertising/sponsorships – If your blog content will be influenced by your advertisers or sponsors then be sure to disclose that it will be. If your content can potentially be a conflict of interest (such as being influenced by any associations with organizations that you have including your employer) be sure to disclose that fact as well
Want to easily generate a disclosure policy for your blog? You can do just that at DisclosurePolicy.org.
Previously: Selecting A Blogging Platform
Next: The MedBlogger Code of Ethics and HIPAA