US Bloggers Must "Disclose" Commercial Interests

The US Federal Trade Commission(FTC) has disclosed its intention of cracking down on bloggers who review products for a compensation and yet do not declare their association with the companies in question.

The move could have far reaching consequences on the way blogosphere is used for marketing, especially if the rest of the world starts to adopt a similar stance.

US regulators from the FTC will penalize bloggers with stringent fines if they refrain from disclosing whether they accept any compensation or free goodies for reviewing products and violators may be fined up to $11000 per violation.

FTC has updated its policy on how advertisers can use endorsements to cover blogs and has apparently extended it to cover celebrities and even research firms.

However, FTC has not given any specific guidelines in which these disclosures need to be made when the new policy comes into effect from 1st December.

Richard Cleland, an assistant director with FTC, expressed the view that it is up to the endorser to choose the manner of disclosure and added "It can be a banner, part of the review. The only requirement is that it be clear and conspicuous."

Though the idea of giving consumers a fair picture is laudable, enforcing regulation on blogs may prove out to be a complex task.

Our Comments

The point is that it will be very complex and difficult to put in place. Getting free stuff doesn't necessarily means that the review or the write-up is going to be biased towards the company who sent the products, far from that. In the long term, bloggers who do not objectively evaluate products are bound to perceived as being biased.

Related Links

American bloggers forced to declare interests

(Times Online)

New rules to end 'blogger payola'

(BBC)

America's memo to bloggers: don't lie, or we'll fine you

(TheGuardian)

US bloggers must now disclose commercial ties

(Hexus )