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WebMD Fails to Disclose $4.8M Obamacare Contract per FTC Blogger Guidelines

Written by Paul Steinbrueck

webmd_obamacare_ftc_disclosureThe latest Obamacare controversy involves $4.8M in contracts paid to popular medical advice website WebMD, contracts that were not disclosed by either WebMD or The Health and Human Services Department.

The investigative report published by the Washington Times states the contract includes:

  • As much as $126,826 for a single 5,000-word review article on scientific advances in a clinical topic.
  • Up to $68,916 for a four-minute video from an opinion specialist.
  • More than $140,000 for an eight-question online quiz.

The first thing that popped into my mind when I read the article was…

What about Federal Trade Commission’s Disclosure rules?

If you’re not familiar with the FTC’s .com Disclosure rules they mandate that bloggers and social media users disclose when they are receiving any kind of compensation for a blog post, Tweet, product review or affiliate link. Failure to do so can result in a big fine.

I’m not sure whether WebMD violated the FTC rules or not. If they did, it seems unlikely the FTC will enforce them, anyway. But regardless this seems like a good opportunity to get people’s attention remind folks about the disclosure rules.

Here’s a link to a good article in Social Media Explorer that explains the disclosure rules. If you do any blogging, product reviews or affiliate programs at all, it’s absolutely essential you know the rules.

Above Reproach

While the FTC rules are somewhat of a pain in the butt (especially for social media – it’s tough to fit “full disclosure” into a 140 character tweet), we as Christians should be disclosing compensation, freebees, and partnerships anyway, regardless of the law.

Scripture calls Christian leaders to be “above reproach.” (1 Timothy 3:2)  As bloggers, social media users, and communicators we are leaders.  Trust is essential to our leadership and influence.

What are your thoughts on the importance of disclosure and the FTC rules?

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About the author

Paul Steinbrueck

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

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