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South Korea’s high profile bloggers and prolific social media mavens are being targeted by the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) over the practice of receiving ‘gifts’ from companies in return for favourable reviews or mentions of products.

The South Korean government has ushered in new regulations which force companies and bloggers to disclose whether payments or gifts are exchanged in return for good reviews. The rules will also apply to users of Twitter and Facebook.

“This measure is aimed at curbing 'power bloggers' who deceive consumers by concealing their links with companies and write favourable product reviews and organise group purchases," an FTC director, Kim Jeong-Kee said.

If either company or blogger fails to comply they will face stiff fines.

The ‘power blogger’ phenomenon has been seized by viral marketers who target housewife styled bloggers to push their products via the power of home spun recommendation.

South Korea’s largest blog portal site Naver.com has around 700 of these 'power bloggers', while there is a rising tide of several hundred others actively working at other sites with huge audiences.

One so- called Queen power blogger , a 46 year old South Korean house wife, Hyun Jin-heui, got busted earlier this year for pushing sales of an ozone sterilizer which was faulty, according to the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards.

A public backlash ensued following revelations that she was paid US$190,000 from the company selling the product. Her blog has attracted around 50 million accumulated hits. ®

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