Time for Fine Print on Social Media Ads: FTC

The old advertising rules still apply

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 13, 2013 11:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – Just because an ad's on Twitter doesn't mean it can get away with being misleading. The FTC today unveiled new guidelines for social media advertising, saying that it must adhere to the same essential rules as traditional advertising. For instance, ads must make clear the fact that they are indeed ads; if a celebrity is being paid to hawk a product through her Twitter feed, she must announce it.

One way to do that, the FTC suggests: Pop in "ad:" at the beginning of the post. Such disclosures must be visible to phone users and can't "(mislead) a significant minority of reasonable consumers." Meanwhile, weight-loss product ads have to reveal their products' average effectiveness, the Wall Street Journal notes in another example. Twitter has already come up with ways of squeezing in disclosures. Short political ads, for instance, appear with a purple box; hovering your mouse over the box provides funding information.

In this May 16, 2012 file photo, a Facebook logo is displayed on the screen of an iPad in New York.
In this May 16, 2012 file photo, a Facebook logo is displayed on the screen of an iPad in New York.   (AP Photo/James H. Collins, File)
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