YouTuber Law: Do I need to be truthful in my YouTube videos?
Yes. That seems obvious. Right?
Lior Leser, Esq.
Technology, Internet and Software Law
Are there laws that require Youtube videos to be truthful. Yes. The federal Trade Commission (the FTC) regulated federal law that says that all ads must be truthful and not misleading. That is mimicked in advertising laws in every state. Sometime, where appropriate, advertisements must backed by scientific evidence.
Now you have to understand that the definition of advertisements is a lot broader than you might think. If you are providing product reviews with affiliate links to purchases on Amazon, you are essentially advertising products. If you are reviewing restaurants in exchange for fees per new patron, then you are advertising. If a hotel pays you to v-log about his newly renovated rooms, then you are advertising.
Yes you are providing your opinions, but you are directly benefiting from those opinions. You are obligated to tell the truth and not mislead.
and on the federal level, it is the FTC that enforces these truth-in-advertising laws laws. And they apply it to youtube videos the same way they apply them to newspapers and magazines.
and when the FTC finds a case of fraud, they files actions in federal court to freeze assets, recover compensation and stop future acts.
So not being truthful in your statements on YouTube can have pretty severe consequences.
Now … You can give your opinion. You can argue both sides to any issue. You can be wrong. What you can’t do is purposefully lie or deceive.
For example, no disclosing that you are paid for a review, is deceptive advertisement. Warner Brothers was sued by the FTC for paying YouTubers to provide positive reviews without disclosure.
Failing to tell your audience that you received from the manufacturer the very product that you are now reviewing is deceptive. Google was sued by the FTC for allowing such unboxing.
So what do you need to take from this. Just be truthful. Don’t deceive and always disclosure any financial relationships.