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First it pushed the online ad industry to establish stricter standards around behavioral targeting; now, the Federal Trade Commission is moving to regulate social-media advertising. The FTC is planning to hold marketers liable for false statements published on blogs and social networks — meaning companies or bloggers could get sued for saying a product was good if it really wasn’t. According to the FT, ad trade organizations like the 4A’s are worried that such regulation will cause social media spending to grind to a halt.
The FTC is revising its guidelines for endorsements and testimonials for the first time since 1980; since companies are increasingly seeding discussion boards and social networks with comments from paid “brand evangelists,” and bloggers are making money off of pay-per-review blog posts, the FTC contends that these kinds of social-media campaigns should be held to the new standards.