Moving forward with a plan to crack down on blogger kickbacks, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has officially issued an update to its guidelines regarding truth in advertising and in product endorsement that will require those reviewing products online to clearly disclose any freebies or payments they get from concerning companies. Penalties include up to $11,000 in fines per violation.
Although many question whether the FTC should have the authority to regulate what they consider to be individuals' free expression, the commission argues that this is just an extension of previously established rules to curb the use of deception in the marketplace. Ultimately they believe it will help consumers make well informed buying decisions when researching products online.
The FTC will obviously have a hard time enforcing these regulations – after all, anyone with an Internet connection can set up a blog nowadays. Thus it's possible that their main focus will be on shady online marketers specializing in blogger ads rather than individual bloggers.
This marks the first time that the agency's "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising" document has been updated since 1980, and extends to other areas as well such as celebrity endorsements "outside the context of traditional ads." The changes will come into effect on December 1.