We’ve all seen them: blogs with outrageous claims about a product with no supporting evidence. Some readers may be misled, while others remain skeptical of any information found online. So what are the implications? Besides the negative image that could surmise from the 34% of blogs that are geared toward consumer reviews on products and brands, careless bloggers could face legal action.
Blogging, however, is not a practice to be feared, but embraced. Millions of blogs are added each day in a growing number of industries and interests, and are beginning to shape advertising and the economy. Furthermore, clever writers and smart citers can expect only positive outcomes from their blogs. Here are four tips on how to keep your blog smart, sound, and best of all, legal.
- Hear no gossip. See no gossip. Speak no gossip. Gossip has always found its way through the Grape Vine, in offices, social groups, and families. There are points, however, when these tales cross the line of controversial banter and dive into the stronger currents of defamation of character. Libel, any written, recorded, or broadcasted inaccurate information that damages the image of any person, group, or brand, is a serious legal implication. Writers of such works can be sued by the afflicted party, dissolving the reputation of the writer and ordering possible monetary compensation to those compromised. Don’t forget, your blog is a written work, archived on any website, and broadcasted to millions of people worldwide. Be smart about how you phrase your opinions, and never state opinions as facts.
- Be original and give credit. The amazing thing about blogging is that it’s an infinite source of shared information on innumerous topics. Giving ideas, spreading them, and forming a network of intuitive blogs is what the game is all about, yet it’s important not to take another writer’s work as your own. If you find a blog you like, blog about it or post the link. Just be sure to give credit to the writer or source of the information. This will not only build your credibility as a blogger, but will also strengthen your relationships with bloggers around the globe.
- Results are not typical. It’s no longer acceptable to post blogs about unrealistic product outcomes. No one actually loses 20 pounds in one workout, or gets rid of 15 years of wrinkles with one facial, so why perpetuate inaccuracies? The fine print disclosure, “results are not typical” will only land you deep in fines, and cause you to face action from consumer protection and class-action consumer lawsuits. Even worse, the advertising and blogging community will shun you. Honesty is the best policy. Give accurate and honest reviews about products and brands, and you will be sure to acquire a loyal consumer following.
- Freedom of Speech. Freedom of speech is your first amendment right, so exercise it! You have the freedom to blog about politics, technology, pop-culture, or any other topic you could imagine. Write about what is important to you, educate others, and be creative. You have the power to keep consumers safe and professionals in your field current on essential industry information. Your good will is sure to return to you in the blogging community.
This blog is not legal advice and was not written by an attorney; however, it does contain important considerations from your fellow blogger. Also, please keep in mind that these tips are restricted to the confines of laws within the United States.
Follow these four important tips, and remember you have a first amendment right in the U.S. Constitution to express yourself. Be savvy; be tasteful, and you could be the next expert blogger in your field.
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