Bloggers who offer endorsements must disclose any payments they have received from the subjects of their reviews or face penalties of up to $11,000 per violation, the Federal Trade Commission said Monday.
The agency, charged with protecting consumer interests, had not updated its policy on endorsements in nearly three decades, well before the Internet became a force in shaping consumer tastes. The new rules attempt to make more transparent corporate payments to bloggers, research firms and celebrities that help promote a product.
"Given that social media has become such a significant player in the advertising area, we thought it was necessary to address social media as well," said Richard Cleland, assistant director for the division of advertising practices at the FTC.
Consumer interest groups have long complained about the lack of disclosure. They say consumers often have no way of telling what corporate payments have been made to bloggers writing on parenting, fitness, dieting and financial services sites, for example.