Update1 FTC More Concerned With Advertisers Than Bloggersby Tim Manni
UPDATE1: Earlier this month we wrote that when the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) modified their rules for the first time since 1980, the changes included strict policies designed to monitor the new landscape that is social media — blogs, twitter, etc.
The FTC’s rules stated that individual bloggers had to follow strict guidelines for proper disclosure or they could be investigated and fined for their work. However, this week the FTC seems less concerned about individual bloggers and more concerned with the advertisers themselves:
“We are not planning on investigating individual bloggers,” said Mary Engle, associate director for advertising practices at the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
“We will be focusing any enforcements on advertisers, not on individual endorsers,” Engle said during a telephone press conference.
In an attempt to clarify misconceptions that the FTC now will be mining the blogosphere for unsavory endorsements, Engle said the FTC’s focus has always been on “bad actor” advertisers.
“If a marketing company is paying people per blog or per tweet and not disclosing that in a large marketing scheme, then we can bring an investigation and that can lead to a lawsuit against the company,” Engle said.
Bloggers are expected to post whether they are paid for a positive post or if they received free products to review, “but the primary obligation is on the advertiser to tell the blogger to do it,” Engle said.
(hat tip: ConsumerWorld.org)
Original post published on 10/05/09: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a new set of guidelines today that deal with online advertising and endorsements. As a true sign of the times, today’s announcement addresses bloggers in particular. Fines could be as high as $11,000 for bloggers who do not properly disclose “material connections” to advertisers:
“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,” the FTC said in a statement. “Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.
“The case of “a consumer who purchases a product with his or her own money and praises it on a personal blog or on an electronic message board” does not represent a commercial endorsement in the eyes of the FTC.
However, a blogger paid to post about advertiser’s product is covered by the rules, whether payment comes directly from the marketer or from a third-party acting on behalf of the marketer.
Click here to read the FTC’s official release. The new rules are slated to begin on December 1.