This week, the Federal Trade Commission recognized social media and the new ways consumers get information. The result was a quick initiation into the regulatory fold.
After 30 static years, the FTC revised its guidelines for endorsements and testimonials to keep communicators on the right side of unfair competition and false advertising laws (see sections 45 and 53). The new guidelines are advisory, but they will change the way public relations, advertising and marketing professionals need to approach certain strategies, tactics and heretofore best practices.
Essentially, the FTC applied longstanding principles to new media realities. This conceptual leap has, not surprisingly, left bubbling uncertainties in its wake. Further muddying the waters are hosts of snap analyses in the press and online that have left professionals misinformed, confused and quite concerned. Bottom line, no blogger will be dragged off in chains nor any time soon be hit with stiff civil penalties, except in very extraordinary cases.