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dot com disclosures (.com disclosures)

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

The dot com disclosures are the Federal Trade Commission's guidelines for applying its regulations to online marketing activities. The original document "Dot Com Disclosures: Information About Online Advertising," issued in May 2000, dealt primarily with applying FTC guidelines to online sales and marketing and email solicitations. In March 2013, the FTC issued revised guidelines, ".com Disclosures," to address aspects of digital advertising that have arisen since 2000, in particular mobile and social media marketing.

Among the original FTC guidelines were stipulations that advertising claims must be truthful and supported by evidence, and testimonials and endorsements must be honest opinions of actual customers. In the event that further information is required to ensure that a claim is not misleading, that information must be clearly and conspicuously disclosed, ideally along with the claim rather than separately. 

The revised guidelines stipulate that the requirements for "clear and conspicuous" disclosures apply across all devices and platforms. Mobile ads and Twitter ads, for example, are limited in size. According to the dot com disclosures guidelines, if the capacity of a device or platform makes it impossible to clearly and conspicuously display disclosures along with an ad, then the ad should not be presented on those devices or platforms. 

The dot com disclosures also have implications for native advertising and other types of content marketing. Such content should be accurate and unbiased and should explicitly indicate its source. 


This was last updated in May 2013

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