The Office of Fair Trading has stated that bloggers promoting products for money online must be open and honest about doing so.
The announcement comes after the recent OFT case against Handpicked Media. The company, which operates a multi-sector network of blogs and bloggers, 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 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, including Twitter.
According to a Statement made by OFT’s senior director Heather Clayton: “The integrity of information published online is crucial so that people can make informed decisions on how to spend their money”.
Clayton further 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.