The Consumers’ Foundation yesterday said only 38.5 percent of the more popular blogs it surveyed have clearly revealed their cooperation with commercial brands in promoting products in their blog content.
More people are getting information from the Internet, such as personal blogs, the foundation said, as well as the traditional ways of getting the latest fashion and lifestyle news from mass media.
Restaurants or fashion products recommended by popular bloggers have led to increasing customers for these companies, the foundation said, adding that some companies or brands are taking advantage of this phenomenon by providing free sample products to bloggers or even paying them to promote their products.
Concerned that such content may misguide consumers, the foundation said it examined the contents of 26 popular blogs, each of which has reached at least 500,000 accumulated hits, to learn if promotional intentions were clearly mentioned.
The foundation said only 10 blogs (38.5 percent) honestly disclosed a cooperative relationship with a company or brand in the “title” or “category” of such content.
In addition, 73 percent of the commercial content examined in these blogs provided information about commercial products, a commercial brand or events in the content, but failed to clearly show them in the title or category, the foundation said.
Such content is in a gray zone where readers wonder whether they are really sharing an experience or simply paid promotional content.
Although a revision of the Fair Trade Act (公平交易法) in October last year stipulated that civilian endorsers — including bloggers — in false advertising cases would face joint compensation liability, but the borderline of endorsement was not clearly drawn out, the foundation said.
Bloggers are still not required to disclose cooperations with businesses or brands, it said.
The foundation suggested the Fair Trade Commission follow the lead of the US’ Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
Those guidelines say that if a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product, then his or her post is considered an endorsement and the blogger must disclose the connection with the seller of the product, or face a fine up to US$11,000 for each post.