US Blogs to disclose all “cash or in-kind payments” under new laws
This week the Federal Trade Commission announced that beginning December 1, bloggers in the US will have to disclose whether or not they received payments or free goods in exchange for reviewing products—if they don’t, they could be fined up to $11,000.
The new FTC Guide Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising makes the argument that any post by a blogger who receives “cash or in-kind payment to review a product” should be considered as a product endorsement. With posts now being considered official endorsements, under advertising and marketing laws, they will have to disclose all relationships with brands and any freebies they have received on their sites.
Although currently there are only plans for this to take place in the US, it is very interesting as it represents the first time since 1980 that the FTC has changed its rules for advertising endorsements and testimonials, and could possibly signal further change worldwide, regarding the way in which online content is regulated.
The announcement has created a great deal of debate amongst bloggers and has been a trending topic on twitter for most of the day, as bloggers begin to look at the impact these new regulations will have on the way they operate their blogs.
Having firsthand experience as a music blogger, I can say from personal experience that receiving freebies are a vital part of maintaining a blog. Without being sent free albums and concert tickets, I would have little content to fuel my blog, and as most bloggers would probably agree, paying for all the products that they review out of pocket, would quickly push many of them out of the blogging business.
That said, the FTC is not saying that bloggers cannot still accept freebies from PR’s. However, it may affect the way readers perceive the credibility of both bloggers and brands, despite the fact that most bloggers will write honest and accurate reviews of a product regardless of if it was free or not.
It will be interesting to see how this policy will affect bloggers in the US and if any plans to implement a similar policy in the EU emerge
My new post on www.shinyred.co.uk