A heads up to those who blog: If you receive a product free of charge and then proceed to rave about it on your blog, or if you are paid to review a product on your blog, and you don't reveal those things to your readers, you may find yourself stuck with a hefty fine from the Federal Trade Commission.
The possibility of such changes first surfaced in June, and fellow IT Business Edge blogger Ann All was all over it. Now, of course, the changes have actually been made and are final.
CNET News blogger Caroline McCarthy points out that the FTC has revised its guide on endorsements and testimonials for the first time since 1980 specifically to address blogger "freebies." According to the FTC's announcement:
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. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.
If the "connections" are not disclosed and the FTC finds out, the blogger could be fined up to $11,000, according to a TechCrunch piece in The Washington Post.
As McCarthy points out, however, it's unclear how these new rules will be enforced considering the sheer number of blogs out there. TechCrunch's Brian Solis also notes that though Twitter and other social networking services are not expressly mentioned in the new guides, they will not be left out.