Handshake Media, Incorporated’s Social Media Authenticity Policy – Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials

Handshake 2.0 is a business news and public relations blog that accepts advertising, so its content falls under the Federal Trade Commission’s FTC Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, referred to generally as truth-in-advertising rules.

With regard to social media, debate involves proposed changes to Section 255.5 Disclosure of material connections. The document explains:

The Guides define both endorsements and testimonials broadly to mean any advertising message that consumers are likely to believe reflects the opinions, beliefs, findings, or experience of a party other than the sponsoring advertiser. 16 C.F.R. §§ 255.0(a) and (b). The Guides state that endorsements must reflect the honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experience of the endorser. 16 C.F.R. § 255.1(a). Furthermore, endorsements may not contain any representations that would be deceptive, or could not be substantiated, if made directly by the advertiser. Id.

Handshake 2.0 was credited by Mark Schaefer with the world’s first social media authenticity policy.


Handshake Media, Incorporated’s Social Media Authenticity Policy:
Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials
Last revised August 23, 2009

Anne Giles Clelland, President, has editorial power and discretion over posts and produced content on all blogs and social media channels owned by Handshake Media, Incorporated, including Handshake 2.0. If content does not meet her criteria for quality, integrity, and taste, she will not post it. If she becomes aware that a post includes mistakes, she will correct them.

Blog posts are not ghostwritten, i.e. written by one person with authorship attributed to another person.

The author of the post is identified in the post.

Posts written by guest bloggers writing on behalf of their own companies, products, or services, or on behalf of others, are identified as such in the post.

If the post is written for a client, that relationship is stated in the post.

The author of the post has full discretion to share his or her full experience.

If the author of the post has a relationship, whether personal or financial, to the person, company, product, or service he or she has written about – or has linked to – that has been stated in the post.

Handshake Media, Incorporated, a digital public relations firm, is the parent company of Handshake 2.0. As social media consultants to our clients, we treasure the genuineness of social media, practice it in our own social media postings, and foster it in our clients.

We do not pose as our clients, nor do we post our words, images, or videos as those of our clients.

Although we do not control the content of comments posted by users and we believe strongly in the value of freedom of speech, we do reserve the right to remove comments in certain circumstances, and if we feel that a user is posting deceptive information likely to mislead other viewers, we will endeavor to remove or modify such comments.

Since these policies may be updated from time to time, you are advised to review this policy as Handshake Media, Incorporated (“Handshake 2.0”) may, in its sole discretion, modify or revise these Guides and policies at any time.