Truth in advertising, offline or online

Source: New York Times (Free Registration)

With so many advertising dollars flowing onto blogs, Facebook and Twitter, it is not surprising that the Federal Trade Commission, which is charged with protecting consumers from sneaky advertising, has turned its eye on this new medium. Spending on consumer-generated and social-networking sites reached $1.01 billion in 2008, up 25 percent from 2007, according to PQ Media, a research firm. It is expected to grow about 20 percent this year. Much of this advertising is clearly labeled. But a lot of it is paid advertising masquerading as bona fide endorsements by celebrities, well-known bloggers and even ordinary people — honest comment, free from pecuniary considerations.

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