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.)
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Organizers of the 56th Presidential Inauguration are warning consumers to be skeptical of tickets being offered for sale online to President-Elect Barack Obama's swearing-in ceremony.
With 73 days to go, tickets are already appearing on the Internet with a hefty price tag. On eBay, 18 bidders have driven up one pair to more than $1,000. One Web site, Inauguraltickets.com, is inviting members of the public to place orders, warning "Our prices will reflect the difficulty in obtaining" tickets. Another site, Dreamtix, is offering a variety of seats ranging from $1,400 to $21,000 a pop.
Watch: Inaugural tickets already for sale on the Web
Carole Florman, Communications Director for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, says "anyone claiming to have tickets to sell right now, or saying that they will guarantee tickets, is not telling the truth." Florman told CNN the 240,000 free tickets to the swearing-in ceremony are currently in a "secure location" and will not be handed out until a few days before. Tickets to the Inaugural Parade and official balls will be handled by a Presidential Inaugural Committee, which has yet to be formed.
The inaugural committee Web site advises members of the public wishing to attend to contact their members of Congress or U.S. Senator and ask to be put on the list for tickets.
An employee answering the phone at Dreamtix.com would give no comment to CNN about their tickets on offer. Karl Roes, the owner of Inauguraltickets.com, told CNN the site buys and sells tickets on the "secondary market" and, while they are taking orders, "we are not claiming we have tickets" at this time.
(CNN) - With tonight's domestic policy debate looming, both Barack Obama and John McCain debuted economic plans this week that they say will put more money in taxpayers' pockets. And both are hoping that instead of crunching the numbers, voters will let the campaigns do it for them.
The Obama campaign unveiled an online "tax calculator" Tuesday designed to highlight the Illinois senator's proposed tax breaks for the middle class.
Fill in a few details, and the tool calculates your savings.
A married couple filing jointly with $60,000 in income and two dependents, for instance, would enjoy $1000 in tax savings under Obama's plan, according to the calculator, versus $645 under McCain's. Take away those dependents, and the McCain number is reduced to zero.
"We expect that for the third debate in a row, John McCain will lie about Obama's tax plan," said Obama campaign spokesperson Nick Shapiro. With the tax calculator, he said, "the vast majority of voters will discover that they¹ll pay less in taxes with Obama as president."
The calculations get a little fuzzy for the highest wage earners: plug in an income of over $250,000, and the message pops up: "You will probably not get a tax cut under the Obama-Biden plan" something the Conservative group Americans for Tax Reform called "misleading" because it fails to mention any of Obama's plans for tax increases on high-income voters.
But two can play the numbers game: The Republican National Committee battled back with a "spend-o-meter" measuring how much they think Obama¹s new policy proposals will cost taxpayers.
(CNN) - Sen. Hillary Clinton is working hard to ensure that her supporters are backing Sen. Barack Obama, the Democrats' presumptive presidential nominee.
But many Clinton diehards are doing the opposite online. A group of her supporters with Web sites attacking Obama and the Democratic Party are rallying together to make sure Obama does not get elected in November.
(CNN) - The Democratic National Committee launched a new Web site Monday promising to be an online clearinghouse for opposition research on John McCain.
"McCainPedia" compiles DNC research on the presumptive Republican nominee under topics like "Economy," "Ethics" and "Security" and targets McCain's "empty rhetoric" on Iraq as well as his role in the Keating Five scandal of the early 1990s. Users are also invited to access DNC video from both YouTube and FlipperTV, the Democratic Party’s archive of campaign tracking video.
In launching the site, the DNC claims that anyone can research and share the material. Unlike Wikipedia, on which the site is modeled, edits can be made only by DNC staff - not members of the public.
“This allows us to fully validate all of the information that appears, ensuring accuracy and reliability,” the “About” section of the site says. Instead, the site is “run by the DNC’s Research, Communications, and Internet teams.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Lawyers for the Barack Obama campaign have asked the Justice Department to investigate two unofficial web sites that, until late this week, invited people to "Donate to Barack Obama for President 2008."
The Web sites - named donateooobama.org and donatetobarackobama.com - were operated by a group calling itself "Concerned Citizens for Obama." The first was advertised as a sponsored link on Google searches for "Barack Obama," appearing alongside Obama's official campaign web site.
As of Friday afternoon, the sites displayed nothing but a 'for sale' notice. But screengrabs taken by CNN earlier this week show what appears to be an official Obama campaign logo, a photo of the candidate, and an invitation to donate up to $2300 - the maximum contribution allowed by a single donor to a political committee during a primary campaign.
In a letter dated April 24, Obama campaign lawyer Robert Bauer wrote to the Department of Justice asking for an investigation.
"These activities ... appear clearly intended to deceive supporters of Barack Obama into believing they are contributing funds to our Committee," Bauer wrote.