The Federal Trade Commission has requested public input about potential updates to its "Dot.Com Disclosures." The guidance document was last updated nearly a decade ago and has not addressed much of the new technology that has emerged and the evolution in online advertising. As a result, the agency's call for comments will allow those interested to provide feedback and suggestions to modernize the guides. Comments are due by August 2, 2022.

The FTC has asked for industry stakeholders' input on many issues, including:

  • How to address the use of so-called dark patterns, which the FTC uses to describe manipulative user interface designs used on websites and mobile apps
  • Guidance on the appropriate use of hyperlinks and how hyperlinks should be labeled
  • How to determine the adequacy of online disclosures when consumers must navigate multiple webpages
  • Whether the current guidance adequately addresses advertising on mobile devices
  • How to handle space-constrained ads, including whether to modify the guidance that "disclosures may sometimes be communicated effectively to consumers if they are made clearly and conspicuously on the website to which the ad links"
  • How to provide proper disclosures on mobile devices
  • What issues have arisen from multi-party selling arrangements online, such as online marketplaces, website operators being compensated for referring consumers to other internet sites that offer products and services, and other affiliate marketing arrangements
  • The use of sponsored and promoted advertising on social media
  • Whether issues raised by new laws or regulations should be addressed in a revised guidance document

Commentors will also have the chance to provide research and analysis about consumer behavior, which the FTC will consider when determining how people understand and react to disclosures.

These are important issues that affect everyone who advertises online, and the revised guidance will have long-term implications for digital marketing. Indeed, this might be the only update to the guides for the next decade, so now is the time to speak up. If you are interested in submitting a comment, please contact the authors of this blog.

You can also learn more about dark patterns at our webinar on July 19. Register here.

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