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Revealing Payment or Personal Interests in Blogs

posted Oct 4, 2010, 2:31 PM by Tara Leitzell Morton

Bloggers tell stories, give opinions, provide commentary and sometimes promote services or products. Although the FTC has ruled that bloggers must disclose payment for any service or product promoted or face a fine, some bloggers either blatantly or unwittingly ignore the rule. Businesses that offer free products, services or experiences to bloggers must also be careful to encourage disclosure or be held liable. Ann Taylor offered a fall preview event to specific bloggers which drew the attention of the FTC because some of the bloggers did not disclose their experience. However beyond a chastising letter, no action against Ann Taylor was taken. Link to The Law. Link to Ann Taylor Example.

The problem is defining where the line is drawn in what constitutes payment. Is unsolicited free product covered? Questions about whether this applies to podcasts or reviews on are not addressed. Newspapers do not qualify their articles about companies from whom they receive advertising, so where does the personal endorsement begin and end? What about people who make comments on Facebook or Twitter about a book or music or an item? The issue is discussed further in the following articles: PCWorld Article ; NYTimes Article