FTC publishes final rules on blogger payola, endorsements

FTC publishes final rules on blogger payola, endorsements

Summary: Bloggers must reveal freebies, cash payments when promoting products.

TOPICS: Browser

So much for blogger self-regulation. Blogger payola is now firmly in the crosshairs of the Federal Trade Commission, which today released new guidelines in endorsements and testimonials. If you receive a free product or a cash payment to review a product, you must "disclose the material connections (you) share with the seller of the product or service."

That seems to mean that review copies of software must be disclosed, although this seems like less of an issue since most sophisticated tech readers would understand that free review software was supplied. But a few years back, Microsoft was shipping review copies of Vista on souped-up comp laptops.

Caroline McCarthy notes that the mommy blogger sector seems to live and breathe on freebies, so those blogs could start having disclaimers as long as the blog posts.

ReadWriteWeb also notes the mommy blogger problem and that the regulations will be somewhat difficult to enforce.

Here's the relevant language:

The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that “material connections” (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other “word-of-mouth” marketers. The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service. Likewise, if a company refers in an advertisement to the findings of a research organization that conducted research sponsored by the company, the advertisement must disclose the connection between the advertiser and the research organization. And a paid endorsement – like any other advertisement – is deceptive if it makes false or misleading claims.

Topic: Browser

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  • It's about time!

    It's only fair that if somebody refers you to a product or a service through their blog, and they have received any sort of remuneration, that they reveal this information to you.
    • won't work

      how are you going to find the ofenders?
      padded reviews, stuffed 'online polls' is just something we have to put up with like we do with spam.
      The only place to get a honest review is consumer reports and that requires a subscription.
      Linux Geek
  • RE: FTC publishes final rules on blogger payola, endorsements

    Makes sense to me: It'll help get the idtiot bloggers thinned out and allow the "real" ones to finally achieve some sort of status thay deserve. IMO with a few exceptions blogs are run by kiddies and wanna-be's that want nothing but to scrape in some cash regardless of the tripe they spout. I've never seen such a useless collection of information anywhere else, not even on newsgroups where most responses are just guesses to begin with. Most blogs are even worse.
    So, either the mess should get cleaned up and become a reality or it sould be doused like the firestorms many of them are. e.g. follow the rules or follow the yellow line out the door. The FTC already has quite a collection of blogs to work with; they've been collecting data for over a year now.

    Good move.
  • The web is Wild West for advertising

    If I counted the number of slanted articles/blogs, ads pretending to be news, misleading ads, deceptive ads, malware disguised as ads, scams, illegal offers, and outright lies that I see on the web everyday, I wouldn't have time to do anything else.

    The FTC is generally spitting on forest fires these days. Funding for enforcement was down across all agencies except for two areas: child porn and terrorist funding/intelligence. The states attorneys general are being more aggressive, but they have to deal with companies who hide behind the interstate commerce provisions.

    So anybody that reads any type of product review, news article, advertisement, spam email, or wiki should do so with a VW-sized grain of salt ...
    terry flores
  • RE: FTC publishes final rules on blogger payola, endorsements

    I think these rules will be generally unknown to the blogger community, not followed, and unenforced.