The Office of Fair Trading has told bloggers promoting products for money that they should be open and honest about what they are up to.
The announcement follows the OFT's recent investigation of Handpicked Media, which was accused of producing comments that were “misleading” and “unfair” to it’s readers, after not making it clear that the content was produced by a paying third party.
Handpicked Media operates a multi-sector network of blogs and bloggers and was found to be in breach of the 2008 Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations. The company has agreed with the OFT to “clearly identify” when comments are paid for.
The OFT claims that the ruling sets a crucial framework in place to ensure that online content is as transparent as other formats.
The new ruling will apply to all blogging platforms, as well as the likes of Twitter.
In a statement, the OFT’s senior director Heather Clayton said: “The integrity of information published online is crucial so that people can make informed decisions on how to spend their money”.
Clayton added: “We expect online advertising and marketing campaigns to be transparent so consumers can clearly tell when blogs, posts and micro blogs have been published in return for payment or payment in kind."
"We expect this to include promotions for products and services, as well as editorial content”, she said.