Potential FTC changes may affect WOM

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The Federal Trade Commission is proposing to revise the “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorse­ments and Testimonials in Adver­tising,” which could make things difficult for word-of-mouth and blog marketing.

Under the proposal, bloggers and brands would be held account­able for any false statements they make about a product in the blogo­sphere or on a social network.

“Those who are compensated to promote or review a product using these techniques are not exempt from the laws governing truthful advertising,” said Richard Cleland, assistant director, divi­sion of advertising practices at the FTC, in a statement.

The guides have not been revised in 30 years, so now is the time to do so, said an FTC spokesperson.

FTC attorneys are reviewing sub­mitted public comments to draw up a recommendation on whether the guides should be adopted or if further revision is needed.

“We think it is a smart approach,” said Sharon Swendner, president of .Com Marketing, an interac­tive agency that gets paid to blog. “We would all like to believe that the markets are self regulating, but unfortunately, as we've seen from banking, it doesn't always work that way.”

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