The UK's Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is set to investigate the murky practice of celebrities endorsing products on Twitter in exchange for non-disclosed sums of money.
Celebrity endorsement of products has always been a popular strategy in the advertising world, although the era of micro-blogging makes paid-for promotions increasingly hard to identify and monitor.
Transparency on Twitter
The UK consumer watchdog says online companies are deceiving consumers by not making such paid-for tweeting clearer to consumers.
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The OFT has brought a case against a PR firm that was found out to be paying bloggers to write positive blog posts and tweets about its clients. (Hardly shocking news, for anybody in the slightest way familiar with the PR industry over the last decade).
The OFT has now launched an investigation into commercial blogging network Handpicked Media, maintaining that any promotional comments that have been paid for must be made far clearer to end-users online.
Deception and the Twittersphere
In a statement, the OFT said such "deceptive" practices: "Includes comments about services and products on blogs and microblogs such as Twitter."
The Guardian notes that major hip-hop artists such as Snoop Dogg can earn in the region of $3,000 (£1,900) for issuing a paid-for endorsement tweet.
The US Federal Trade Commission makes sure that such promo-tweets contain the words "ad" or "spon" – legislation which currently doesn't exist in the UK, hence the OFT's recent investigations into the matter.
Via The Guardian