Prediction #12: Online Credibility Will Continue To Be Important,

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Online credibility will continue to be important, but new FTC rules requiring bloggers to disclose the receipt of free samples, gifts and cash payments will get confusing because many who don’t blog are not required to make similar disclosures. Currently, tech reviewers at newspapers get free samples but don’t need to disclose that fact (though Walt Mossberg and others do…on their websites and blogs). Theater reviewers often get free tickets while many freelance travel writers get all their travel “comped.” Yet the FTC does not require these folks to disclose gifts unless they’re bloggers. We actually think it makes sense to disclose any type of relationship with an organization being discussed because credibility is important for bloggers and non-bloggers. While it’s good to see a government agency understand the need to keep pace with technology, we need clearer rules that ensure equal footing so that reviewers disclose relationships whether or not their work appears on a blog or in print.

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