Talking tech since 2003

Today, the FTC in a somewhat expected announcement updated their “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”.  The changes reflect the agency’s attempt to become more current.  The updates allow the FTC to crack down on independent bloggers (and celebrities) who do not disclose any freebies.  In other words, if a company provides you with a product for free in exchange for a review (or endorsement), and you do not disclose that, you can be fined up to $11,000 by the FTC.

An excerpt from the document:

“The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that ‘material connections’ (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers–connections that consumers would not expect–must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other ‘word-of-mouth’ marketers. 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. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.”

I’m curious with so many blogs out there and so many bloggers how they will attempt to enforce these new guidelines.  I’m all for full disclosure, when I receive a product for review, I’m the first to let people know that it was sent to me from X company.  However, there are many times when I’ll purchase the product myself and review it.  How will the FTC know when to differentiate?  Do I really have to save every single receipt?

It will remain to be seen I guess.  The last thing I would like to see is bloggers being wrongfully fined.  What are your thoughts on these new guidelines (which become effective as of December 1st)?  Harsh or appropriate?  Leave a comment!

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