post-page

FTC to go after blogger freebies and non disclosure

35
responses
by
 
on
June 22nd, 2009
in
Blogging Essays, Blogging News, Web Ethics

The Federal Trade Commission is planning to crack down on bloggers who review or promote products while earning freebies or payments, the Associated Press reported Sunday. “New guidelines, expected to be approved late this summer with possible modifications, would clarify that the agency can go after bloggers–as well as the companies that compensate them–for any false claims or failure to disclose conflicts of interest,” the article explained.¬†via Report: FTC to go after blogger freebies | Politics and Law – CNET News.

While I am not a big fan of government scrutiny and general “big brother” mentality, I do believe that this will add to the believability and authenticity of the blogging medium. We at Weblog Tools Collection try very hard to keep commercial interests completely out of the content that we generate and only rely on what we consider to be ethical ads to make ends meet. We also follow a strict full disclosure policy.

Bloggers who have regularly received freebies in the past and/or write reviews of products that they then received in lieu of the review (I was approached by a bean bag chair maker a couple of times, occasional reviewers need not care) might want to stay on top of this issue and practice full disclosure if you have not already done so. However in playing devil’s advocate, it would be very difficult to correctly identify the human behind the blogging persona without a criminal complaint and even then it might be in a legal grey area at the least (think DMCA). I am afraid that this level of scrutiny combined with general FUD might also dissuade some casual bloggers from posting reviews and reduce the general alacrity with which weekend bloggers post reviews. My thought is that the companies that offer the freebies (Lexus Automobiles?) and encourage non-disclosure should have to deal with the regulations and not the general blogging public (which is hard to enforce anyways). Techmeme has a bunch of good examples and discussion pieces.

All the transparency and legal issues aside, I think that this might be a good development if well defined and uniformly enforced. Writing reviews is a fun way to get into blogging and I would hate for things to get so formal that the casual reviewers get their hands slapped.

heading
35
Responses

 

Comments

  1. John Kolbert (2 comments.) says:

    While I agree with the principal I do not agree with the method. I don’t think that the government meddling with how someone blogs is an appropriate use of legislative authority or taxpayer dollars. Aren’t there a lot more important things for them to discuss? Seriously.

  2. Nathan Rice (18 comments.) says:

    Government regulating the internet — because they do such a wonderful job with all the other stuff they meddle with.

    If true, this is a sad day for us all.

  3. Loui Zoot (2 comments.) says:

    You have ads on your website, do you think the government should have say over that too? The government almost never knows what’s best for the individual. There are too many laws already, we don’t need any new ones.

    They should spend their time reviewing the ones already written and seeing what they can do to make those work correctly. It should never be the governments job to protect consumers from themselves, and that’s what the new law would amount to.

    You should always research a product before buying it, rather than taking the sole recommendation of someone else, no matter who they are. Consumers have the power to protect themselves, and I believe they should learn to exercise the ability.

    I’m not at all for bogus reviews, but that is not what our government should wasting their already overgrown power on.

    It’s funny how as an American citizen I am guaranteed the pursuit of happiness, yet my government does it’s damnedest to outlaw all forms of happiness.

    That’s my opinionated rant on that, good day.

    Louis Martin (aka Loui Zoot)

  4. Alex (8 comments.) says:

    While I agree with full disclosure – I don’t agree government has any business getting into regulating it.

    They screwed up so far anything they attempted to regulate – why do you think this will be any different?

    Internet regulates itself, nobody will believe you if all you do is write glowing promotions for every product that comes your way.

  5. Drewfus (1 comments.) says:

    I think it’s a good call that any retribution should be taken against the company rather than the individual – in addition…

    The blogger who casually reviews gizmos shouldn’t be affected, only if they’re getting kickbacks. Hopefully this doesn’t affect the honest blogging reviewer.

  6. Byron (20 comments.) says:

    While I am not a fan of paid reviews, I think government regulation of this will only add an illusion of legitimacy, not actually have the effect of creating legitimacy. If people have this warm fuzzy that the FCC are on the job, they might tend to think everything is on the up and up, and drop their guard. At least now (with no regulation), everyone takes the reviews with a measure of skepticism. You actually go out and look to see if this is a “sponsored” review if you’re suspicious. I may be overestimating how much the average person actually cares about the legitimacy of a review, but that’s how I think it would work give the rational reader.

    How much are we going to pay to have someone make sure that BobsGasStationBathroomReviews.com isn’t getting a $50 gas card kickback from his local Esso for a glowing review of their urinals without proclaiming it in a flashing neon banner?

    On the other hand, I kind of like there being regs around this so at least if there is an egregious offense, there is some recourse. Maybe that’s all they’re trying to do.

    Ah well, thanks for listening ;-)

    BB

  7. Carson (46 comments.) says:

    Since we are all so stupid we need people like Barbara Boxer, Maxine Waters and Barney Frank taking care of us. At least that’s what they think. What I think is that anyone who is fooled by a biased review or any other kind of promotion deserves to be taken to the cleaners.

    The problem with any nanny state undertaking is that it takes a bureaucracy to implement it. In any bureaucracy it’s the bottom of the chain that interacts with the people. While the top of the chain might be quite competent and objective the bottom is often incompetent and arbitrary.

  8. Missy says:

    What about affiliate marketing? How does this play into the equation, is this considered part of paid reviews.

    • Mark Ghosh (386 comments.) says:

      That is a good question Missy and I am sure it is on the minds of many. It will be interesting to see how detailed the FTC gets with its set of rules.

  9. Feydakin (1 comments.) says:

    Back in the 50s it was called payola..

    Full disclosure has always been a good thing.. But, as has been said elsewhere, going after the networks and companies doing the paying seems to be a better use of resources..

  10. Rick says:

    “What I think is that anyone who is fooled by a biased review or any other kind of promotion deserves to be taken to the cleaners.”

    And anyone who gets raped deserves it and anyone who gets robbed deserves it… Great logic.

    • Todd P (2 comments.) says:

      It appears the guideline being sought in blog material is [any false claims or failure to disclose conflicts of interest.] That may prove interesting if someone writes prose or humorously is claiming they have bought a flying carpet or an anti-aging cream.

    • Carson (46 comments.) says:

      Yeah, great logic: Equating rape with purchasing an inferior product.

      • R says:

        I agree, rape RUINS people’s whole life’s, and the others around them. Some people just type without thinking.

        Geez

    • Loui Zoot (2 comments.) says:

      And we know how well the government prevents those crimes. Almost not at all.

  11. Lorna (4 comments.) says:

    This is like busting drug users instead of the drug dealers. The FTC should get their focus right.

  12. Todd P (2 comments.) says:

    Should we feel okay to slam products with negative critiques but not make endorsements?

  13. Colleen (1 comments.) says:

    I’d rather see it the other way around, as follows:

    Bloggers who receive ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for a product review should be allowed to put that on their review. Smart people will start looking for that seal. Anyone using that seal who is receiving kickbacks is subject to blacklisting by a consumer organization, not the government. So you read multiple reviews of a product. If you find one that you feel is overly positive that has the seal, look up the domain and/or the blogger’s name on the blacklist.

    And PEOPLE should be (but arent) smart enough to just avoid PTP blogs. Google already hates them. If I see a PTP blog, even one with full disclosure, I know what they’re about and I blacklist it.

    There should be a hotline for ratting out dishonest bloggers. You must use your name but it would not be disclosed to the blogger. If my best friend received a freeb and blogged a review she claimed was absolutely unbiased I would totally rat her out. She can still be my best friend but she has no business giving consumers the impression she is unbiased. When I reviewed a book I said quite upfront that I got a free copy of the book.

  14. Claude Gelinas (5 comments.) says:

    The intention has some merit but the digital witch hunt is a proverbial can of worms.

    Governments are all about control and that’s why the FTC’s move is so preoccupying. What’s a freebie? What’s a false claim? Whew… that’s going to do way more harm than good, if you ask me.


Tweetbacks

  1. blognews (blognews) (104 comments.) says:

    [planet wordpress]: Weblog Tools Collection: FTC to go after blogger freebies and non disclos.. http://tinyurl.com/lmjt6p

  2. WordPressYes (WordPress Yes!) (94 comments.) says:

    FTC to go after blogger freebies and non disclosure: The Federal Trade Commission is planning to crack down on b.. http://tinyurl.com/lmjt6p

  3. damien_riley (Damien Riley) (1 comments.) says:

    RT @weblogtooltips FTC to go after blogger freebies and non disclosure | Weblog Tools Collection http://tinyurl.com/lmjt6p (via @tweetmeme)

  4. keithdsouza (Keith Dsouza) (4 comments.) says:

    FTC to go after blogger freebies and non disclosure http://tinyurl.com/lmjt6p

  5. extremejohn (extremejohn) (3 comments.) says:

    RT @weblogtooltips FTC to go after blogger freebies and non disclosure | Weblog Tools Collection http://tinyurl.com/lmjt6p

  6. CeliacFamily (Heather) (2 comments.) says:

    FTC to go after blogger freebies and non disclosure http://tinyurl.com/lmjt6p

  7. FTC to go after blogger freebies and non disclosure | Weblog Tools Collection http://tinyurl.com/lmjt6p (via @TheWebGeek)

  8. bentcorner (Rick Rottman) (1 comments.) says:

    RT @weblogtooltips FTC to go after blogger freebies and non disclosure | Weblog Tools Collection http://tinyurl.com/lmjt6p (via @tweetmeme)

  9. daveconsulting (David Lee) (1 comments.) says:

    RT @weblogtooltips FTC to go after blogger freebies and non disclosure | Weblog Tools Collection http://tinyurl.com/lmjt6p (via @tweetmeme)

  10. CeliacFamily (Heather) (2 comments.) says:

    FTC to go after blogger freebies and non disclosure posts http://tinyurl.com/lmjt6p

  11. 3Cheers4U (Claire Perruccio) (1 comments.) says:

    RT @weblogtooltips FTC to go after blogger freebies and non disclosure | Weblog Tools Collection http://tinyurl.com/lmjt6p (via @tweetmeme)

  12. highermusic (J.S. Epperson) (2 comments.) says:

    Transparency is good! FTC to go after blogger freebies and non disclosure – http://bit.ly/4rEUE

  13. evil_condiments (evil_condiments) (1 comments.) says:

    RT @weblogtooltips FTC to go after blogger freebies and non disclosure | Weblog Tools Collection http://tinyurl.com/lmjt6p (via @tweetmeme)

  14. nickyjameson (Nicky Jameson) (1 comments.) says:

    FTC planning crackdown on bloggers who review , get freebies and don’t disclose. I actually think this is good. http://tinyurl.com/lmjt6p

  15. kibitzette (Kibitzette) (1 comments.) says:

    Wake-up! Remember the poem – “First they came . . ” by Martin Niem√∂ller, a German pastor? Bloggers – we are next – http://tinyurl.com/lmjt6p


Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] FTC to go after blogger freebies and non disclosure [...]

Obviously Powered by WordPress. © 2003-2013

page counter
css.php