Advertising Law

FTC to Crack Down on Bloggers Compensated for Posts

  • Print

As more consumers head to their computers to evaluate the quality of products, the more companies have an interest in making sure their products shine online.

What many consumers don’t realize is that companies more and more enlist the support of bloggers by offering forms of compensation and perks to review and promote their products.

The Associated Press reports that the practice has grown enough that it’s caught the attention of the Federal Trade Commission, which by summer’s end is expected to promulgate guidelines that would allow the FTC to target bloggers and companies that compensate them for making false claims or failing to disclose conflicts of interest.

This would mark the first time the FTC has tried to systematically patrol what bloggers do and say online. Indeed, the most common promotion, posting an add or link to an online retailer generating commissions, could be enough to trigger oversight, the AP notes.

The AP explains that while blogging has taken on many of the characteristics of community journalism, there is no consensus on ethical practices. Also, journalists who work for media organizations are accountable to their employers and generally cannot receive payments from marketers or have to return products after a review period.

If guidelines are adopted, bloggers may be forced to back up their product claims and disclose their compensation arrangements. If they don’t, the FTC would have the power to issue stop orders, require the payment of restitution to customers and ask the Justice Department to sue for civil penalties, the AP reports.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.