MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Michele Norris.
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
And I'm Melissa Block.
If you read blogs or use Facebook and Twitter, you might have online friends who write about coffee, makeup, kids' toys or other products they like. Advertisers try to take advantage of those relationships by paying bloggers and tweeters. Well, now the Federal Trade Commission has passed rules that will require those people to be open about their connections.
NPR's Laura Sydell explains.
LAURA SYDELL: Andrew Bennett might not make millions from product endorsements like LeBron James, but he does have a few hundred followers on his blog who take him seriously.
ANDREW BENNETT: With the Soda-Club Home Soda Maker, you can give your friends and family delicious, fresh soda whenever they come over to visit.
SYDELL: Bennett didn't just happen to have this around his house and decide to blog about it. He actually seeks out products he can promote for money from a site called SocialSpark, which lists advertisers who want to pay to get on blogs.
BENNETT: Basically that allows you to pick and choose what opportunities you'd like to blog about.
SYDELL: Bennett says bloggers can make between $50 and $500, depending on how many followers they have. SocialSpark also requires bloggers to tell their readers that they are being paid. But it doesn't necessarily tell them how.
BENNETT: There is no specific, one way to disclose them. We are trying very hard to disclose every way possible.
SYDELL: Now Bennett and other bloggers will be required by the FTC to tell people when they are blogging or tweeting for money. Even though Bennett already does this, he's worried. He says the regulations are very vague about how he must disclose his connections. He's not alone. Advertisers are also concerned.
ANTHONY DIRESTA: Pretty interesting how to figure out where to put disclosure. Is it an audio platform? Is it visual? Is it limited like Twitter is?
SYDELL: Anthony DiResta is an attorney who consults with major advertising firms. Officials at the FTC say they want to work with advertisers to come up with clear policies. Kelly McBride of the nonprofit Poynter Institute for journalism thinks this is an important step because many consumers can tell a commercial from a program on television, but people can be naive when their Facebook friend says they're a fan of McDonald's.
KELLY MCBRIDE: For the most part, people assume that those are truly genuine, positive reviews of whatever product it is.
SYDELL: McBride hopes the new regulations will help create more awareness among the general public about how advertising works in the new world of social media.
Laura Sydell, NPR News.