FTC Cracks Down on Bloggers

ARRRHHHH!! No more selling out!!!

"ARRRHHHH!! No more selling out!!!"

In a shot that will boom through the blogosphere, the Federal Trade Commission today released updated disclosure guidelines for bloggers (and micro-bloggers).  This is the first time the guidelines have been updated since 1980 – nearly three decades.

The bottomline?

Bloggers who are paid for product reviews or endorsements must disclose their relationship with the product or service or face a fine of up to $11,000.

That is a hefty fine, although the FTC does not spell out how bloggers need to disclose the relationship.

This is from the FTC press release:

“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.”

The FTC announced this summer that it was cracking down on bloggers mostly because of mommy bloggers – some of whom were being paid by companies to endorse their products.  But it is also a nod to the growing power of blogging as more companies include bloggers in the practice of distributing sample products for review (a practice, by the way, that is common at nearly every newspaper in the country).

Should be interesting to see what the reaction is from bloggers like Chris Brogan and others who regularly feature sponsored posts on their blogs (although Chris has always been diligent about disclaiming his relationships with brands).

Stay tuned: this is a topic that is going to be debated – a lot – over the next few weeks.

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