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New blogger payola disclosure rules start

Starting today, bloggers must abide by the Federal Trade Commission’s new disclosure rules. That means, for example, that a blogger who’s getting paid by an advertiser to promote a brand of coffee needs to let readers know.

Much confusion surrounded the new disclosure rules when they were announced last Oct. 5, particularly fears that bloggers who didn’t disclose financial or product payments would get fined as much as $11,000 per violation. In short, the FTC says they aren’t out to fine bloggers and that fears of punishment have been blown out of proportion.

The FTC has been on an education campaign since then, with officials hosting Webinars and participating in conferences to help explain the revised rules. The agency revised its rules on advertising disclosures to update long outdated guidelines that didn’t take into account new forms of media such as blogs and social media Web sites.

There is still confusion about some of the details on product and financial payment disclosures, as explained in this Los Angeles Times story that reveals an advertising industry geared just to mommy and daddy bloggers.

But another group of bloggers have tried to clean up the reputations of bloggers they think have been tarnished through the debate. Blog With Integrity co-founder Susan Getgood is among those trying to educate bloggers on the rules. She was in Washington earlier this month to meet with policymakers, whom she hopes will better understand the blogging industry.

The FTC's guidelines and video featuring Mary Engle, associate director for advertising practices in the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection:

By Cecilia Kang  |  December 1, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  FTC  
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