In a recent update to its policy, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has established new endorsement rules for blogs. Now, a blog that offers endorsements must disclose any payments it receives from the subjects of its reviews or face penalties of up to $11,000 per violation. This initiative is designed to promote disclosure and protect consumers, particularly those who obtain product information from blogs, believing them to be unbiased reviews.
“Given that social media has become such a significant player in the advertising area, we thought it was necessary to address social media as well,” said Richard Cleland, assistant director for the division of advertising practices at the FTC, to The Washington Post.
“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 release. “Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.”
The Washington Post also notes that the policy update affects how advertisers use studies by research institutes they help fund, as the financial contributions must now be disclosed when companies cite the findings of those research organizations.
The new policy will come into effect this December.