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-The Necessity of Transparency and Disclosure

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            (Image by minifig via Flickr)

Early on many bloggers were anonymous or assumed fictitious names to ensure their privacy. Even a number of pastors took this tact in order to be free to say whatever they wanted to online without creating a controversy in their church.

However in the long run ‘trust’ became an issue particularly among Christians. If bloggers were unwilling to share their real identities than could their observations and stories be completely trusted? Also some actually went out of their way to create controversy and responded rather badly at times to fellow believers and leaders. Transparency is now winning the day and Christians in particular should be very open and truthful about who they really are. It is a matter of integrity and credibility.

California has now even passed a law which makes it illegal to impersonate someone else online. Fictitious blogs and social media sites have been created for almost every famous person you can think of- even a few religious leaders.

Another issue that has come to the fore lately is ‘disclosure’. Some bloggers were earning good money by recommending or positively reviewing stuff on their sites or social network pages. Now if money or even free product is given for reviews it must be disclosed according to law (USA). Now the UK is also cracking down on this issue.

On one of my sites I review books and receive books from publishers to review from time to time. On another site I review movies and have occasionally received DVD’s from studios or have even been invited to preview a movie in the theaters for free. Now it is legally necessary for bloggers to disclose any free products or services received including books or DVDs.  Here’s a disclosure statement that I use and link to when appropriate on my movie review blog:

“From time to time I receive free DVD’s from studios or I am invited to attend a movie preview for the purposes of review. On those occasions it will be noted and the following statement will apply:

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Here’s the article by Lorelle on this very issue that goes into even greater detail with a number of good tips:

Disclosure Now Required on Blogs, Twitter, and Other Social Media Sites

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