The rules for endorsements and reviews have been rewritten for bloggers and their partner brands. As of December 1, The F.T.C. will put blogs, their authors, and social media endorsements under new scrutiny. The feds hope the legislation will make the blogosphere more honest. But are their efforts destined to repress a thriving online world?
To keep bloggers and their brand relationships on the straight and narrow, the New York Times reports that the F.T.C. will require full disclosure when it comes to payments and freebies given for product review. Under the new guidelines, they would be considered endorsements, which must be clarified as such by the author. Plus, bloggers must identify any previous connections with a product or service.
The study also covers testimonial advertisements (a favorite of weight loss products — or think spokespeople like Subway’s Jared). Until now, they just needed disclaimers along the lines of “results not typical.” The new rules go further. It demands companies lay out what consumers can generally expect. But what the F.T.C. will define as a “typical” result isn’t yet defined.
This legislation — the first rewrite since 1980 — could be a rite of passage for blogs, which were once written off as unreliable sources. But their profound effect on society has been recognized and they’re here to stay.
As consumers flock to the web for consumer-generated content (presumably unbiased and trustworthy) new-age web payola must be accounted for. But are the regulations too ambiguous? Will bloggers now fear mentioning brands? Even worse, will they stifle creative brand collaboration with bloggers?
What’s your take on the new regulations? Leave your thoughts in the replies.