US Federal Trade Commission guideline updates approved Monday require bloggers to reveal freebies or pay related to online commentary or face hefty fines.
FTC officials addressed online reviews by bloggers in the first revisions to Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising since 1980.
"The post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement," FTC Secretary Donald Clark said in an 81-page notice of revised guidelines.
"Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service."
The FTC listed examples to clarify how "material connections" that can include payments or free products must be disclosed by bloggers or "other word-of-mouth marketers" that endorse products.
"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," Clark wrote.
Fines for violators of the rules can reportedly be as much as 11,000 dollars.Reuse content