Bloggers must disclose payments for reviews

As a blogger who receives samples of products (mostly beer) and writes reviews of them, I read with interest this story that popped up on LATimes.com today: Bloggers must now disclose if they got paid to write a review.

Basically, the Federal Trade Commission has revised their "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising" to add specific rules and language concerning bloggers.

A blogger who reviews a product — but leaves out the fact that he or she got a payment, high-value gift or free vacation to write the review — could run afoul of new federal regulations on advertising.

"The post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement," said the agency in a release. "Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service."

A blogger can, however, accept a free sample of a product for review purposes without disclosure, "provided that the product itself does not have such a high value that would make its receipt material (e.g., a car)," according to the revised rules.

I’m surprised I haven’t seen more being made of this online yet; this should be a big story in the blogosphere. These changes go into effect December 1st.

Fortunately I disclose everything that I’ve received on behalf of my blogs (really only The Brew Site has generated anything), and just as fortunately, while I’ve received lots of samples, I haven’t accepted any money or high-value material payment to do so. (I’ve received various bits of glassware with some of the beer, but that’s it—and it’s all documented on the blog.)

I’m going to be very interested to see how this shakes out the blogging world. Kids, disclose those payments!

2 thoughts on “Bloggers must disclose payments for reviews”

  1. I am glad to see this action taking place. I always wonder when people don’t disclose whether they are reviewing a gift or something they just happen to like/dislike.

    Shouldn’t bloggers be keeping track of this anyways, for tax purposes? Or is that only if the blog is "monetized"?

  2. Let’s be clear and make sure this doesn’t include "dares" or bets, like with Bend Oregon Restaurants – "I’ll be you $5 you can’t eat 20 tacos at Del Taco", or with you Jon, I could say "I’ll give you $5 to review Budweiser with Lime on the Brew Site".

    And for the record in this economy none of these statements are legit offers. 😉

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