WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Federal Trade Commission passed new guidelines Monday that advise bloggers and celebrities to clearly disclose their relationships with advertisers.
"The test here is, if the relationship were known between the blogger and the advertiser, would that affect the credibility of the endorsement?" FTC assistant director of advertising practices Richard Cleland told CNN. "That question has to be determined on a case by case basis. What we have produced is a general guidance that says in certain cases receiving a free product is not any different than being paid directly for an endorsement."
Cleland admits there will be no new team to monitor all the blogs, and that enforcing these guidelines would be a "game of whack-a-mole" given the numbers involved.
The new guidelines are viewed as more of an educational tool than any kind of requirement, and geared at advertisers more than bloggers. If numerous complaints are filed regarding a blog, the FTC is likely investigate that the advertiser has properly advised the blogger of these guidelines.
The rules, which go into effect December 1, do not mandate the manner in which the disclosure should be made, stipulating only that it should be clearly visible, and easy to understand. Nor does the 81-page document specify a penalty for bloggers or advertisers if the guidelines are violated.
Bloggers aren't surprised by the new regulations, said Susan Getgood, co-founder of the Web site Blog With Integrity, which advises bloggers about advertising and ethics: "We have been talking about it for a long time, this document just makes it clearer."
(Watch CNN's Abbi Tatton report from The Situation Room after the jump.)