The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approved the final revisions of the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising yesterday. The revision, the first since 1980, requires bloggers to disclose any monetary or material compensation that they receive for endorsing a product or service. Violators of the new guidelines, which go into effect on December 1, can face up to $11,000 in fines from the FTC. The new guidelines do not specify how a blogger should disclose the information; they just require them to do so. It doesn’t stop at bloggers. Richard Cleland, associate director for the FTC’s advertising division, assures that they will also monitor Facebook and Twitter for violators. Celebrities are not exempt either. The FTC expects celebrities making endorsements outside of traditional ads to disclose their arrangements with advertisers to their fans and followers.
Unsolicited endorsements such as, a celebrity tweeting about how great their new laptop is won’t raise a red flag. However, if the FTC discovers that the laptop was given to that celebrity in exchange for the endorsement, that’s a violation.
With millions of active users on Facebook and Twitter, it’s still unclear how the FTC plans to enforce the new guidelines. The FTC’s lack of proper resources makes it impossible to monitor every blog and social media user. They hope by outlining the revisions, people will willingly make the disclosure. But regardless of how they are policing, let it be known—they are watching!