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F.T.C. Proposes To Fine Bloggers Not Disclosing Payments For Reviews
engine




msg:4001515
 4:01 pm on Oct 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

F.T.C. Proposes To Fine Bloggers Not Disclosing Payments For Reviews [google.com]
The Federal Trade Commission will require bloggers to clearly disclose any freebies or payments they get from companies for reviewing their products.
The FTC said its commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the final guidelines, which had been expected. Penalties include up to $11,000 in fines per violation.


 

Leosghost




msg:4001538
 4:20 pm on Oct 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

What are they going to ( attempt ) do about non US citizens blogging for money or goods ?

fining the "sponsoring" company first would make more sense ..

and be more in line with anti corruption laws ..

Staffa




msg:4001540
 4:26 pm on Oct 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

But the commission stopped short Monday of specifying how bloggers must disclose any conflicts of interest.

Simple, give all blog submission forms extra radio buttons for :
sponsored submission : yes / no

tongue in cheek

Brett_Tabke




msg:4001577
 4:49 pm on Oct 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

I think this is a huge waste of taxpayer money. There is zero way to determine that a blog post is "paid" for.

Would Matt Cutts entire blog have to have a disclaimer on it that he is speaking for Google?

What about Robert Scoble who is not employeed by Rackspace, but a loyal former microsoft employee? He just put out a blog post that was quite critical of Google Wave.

We signed Microsoft to a sponsorship in Vegas. I have liked Bing since it was live search, does that mean this whole post should be disclaimed?

What about any site that receives money from Google AdSense? If they remotely talk about tech, google, or the internet, should that whole site be disclaimed?

What I am saying, is that the Govt is looking into all but about 10% of the web will need to have a disclaimer on it.

This is a backwards step.

<disclaimer>
I am a major fan of Izea and Ted Murphy. The man and the product are pure genius.
<disclaimer>

<discalimer2>
Izea is a exhibitor at PubCon Las Vegas.
</disclaimer2>

<disclaimer3>
Microsoft will be a major sponsor of PubCon Las Vegas
</disclaimer3>

<disclaimer4>
Google is pulling back from conference support this year. Whoever thought Google would pull a Nixon and put the GooglePlex into bunker mode?
<disclaimer4>

<disclaimer5>
Rackspace is probably going to be an exhibitor at pubcon las vegas. Robert Scoble now works for Rackspace.
</disclaimer5>

<disclaimer7>
During a second grade straw poll in the fall of 1972, I voted for Richard Nixon.
<disclaimer7>

<disclaimer8>
Under the advice of counsel, I deleted disclaimer #6
</disclaimer8>

...any Onion writers in the crowd? lol

wheel




msg:4001605
 5:16 pm on Oct 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

How in heck are they going to police this anyway? A US blogger hosts in the UK for a UK-centric blog and puts up privacy on his domain reg. Who can catch that? Not anyone of the IQ level needed to pass this piece of work, that's for sure.

pexcornel




msg:4001611
 5:21 pm on Oct 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Usually when the law is unclear, fuzzy and it can't really be implemented, it WILL be used only against certain people, when needed. This is just a step back for freedom of expression.

maximillianos




msg:4001635
 5:40 pm on Oct 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

The grey area can be debated endlessly with this one. Hopefully they know what they are doing if/when they put this law in place. Scary stuff.

Brett_Tabke




msg:4001642
 5:54 pm on Oct 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

I put my tongue in my cheek for that previous post, but it dawns on my how serious this really becomes for AdSense affiliates.

You write a blog post about Nike Shoes and AdSense immediately puts ads for Nikes on your blog. You now must go back and DISCLAIM that you received income for writing that post.

futuresky




msg:4001645
 5:56 pm on Oct 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

And so more "red tape" madness makes its way into the world. I thought England where I live was bad enough for excessive nanny-state legislation but it seems over there in the USA, land of the "Free" you have it just as bad or worse.

gatonegro




msg:4001652
 6:07 pm on Oct 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Understanding and having to accept the FTC ruling, even though we don't agree w/ it, does anyone know how the rules affect previous "endorsed posts"?

For instance, if you did a post 2 yrs ago re: a free product you received, if you don't go back and show the endorsed relationship are you at fault?

Or does the FTC ruling only affect posts from Dec. 1st forward?

willybfriendly




msg:4001653
 6:11 pm on Oct 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

disclose any freebies

So, we send out product samples as a normal part of marketing, and then when the unsolicited reviews come in (good or bad) there has to be a disclaimer attached?

In all fairness, this should be applied across the board. Why not - it could single handedly shut down some major pharma companies. Think about the Dr. giving you the disclaimer before writing the script, "Mrs. Robinson, I need to tell you that GlaxoSmithKline has provided me tens of thousands of dollars in free samples as well as giving me three all expense paid trips to conferences at high end golf resorts in the past 12 months - and pays me a small percentage on every new prescription I write for this medication."

Leosghost




msg:4001656
 6:24 pm on Oct 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

You write a blog post about Nike Shoes and AdSense immediately puts ads for Nikes on your blog. You now must go back and DISCLAIM that you received income for writing that post.

which of course GOOG can take as drawing attention to the ads ..and boot you ..

What would be a far more sensible way to treat disclosure would be if they ran it the same way as product placement etc in the movies or TV ..just post the disclaimer as a " thanks go to XYZ corp for their help or providing ressources or whatever" .." or this site is partially funded by product/services/ads and place it in the equivalent place as the movies do ..at the end in the credits ..or in the case of a site or a blog ..in the "privacy page" or in the "about us / me" ..

Surely as long as the bureaucrats kept their jobs and their desks ( the object of any govt employees life anywhere ) then they could spend all day surfing looking for compliance ( which one wonders if that wasnt the original idea anyway ) that they get paid to surf :)

hence my original post ..if they were serious ....the corruption starts with the company that wants the post but doesnt want it declared ..But that wouldn't get pen pushers paid to surf pron all day long looking for non compliant sites and blogs ..

Why not - it could single handedly shut down some major pharma companies.

and financial advisors ..or politicians :)

disclaimer ..this post was partially sponsored by fine rosé from the St Emilion region :)

2clean




msg:4001672
 6:42 pm on Oct 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Yeah, it looks pretty bad, but I think the key message is on all those review based blogs that say "wow this is a fantastic product", when in fact they've never used it or even know what it is.

Quite how it is going to be policed I don't know but I'm sure a few people got a little shock when they saw the headline.

lexipixel




msg:4001675
 6:45 pm on Oct 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

The FTC notice:
[ftc.gov...]

Public Comments:
[ftc.gov...]

It should be noted that some of the linked documents are in Adobe PDF format, and others are in "WPD" format.

I did not see any notice that the FTC uses or recommends Adobe or other software, although the recommendation is implicit in that fact that the federal agency uses the software and publishes link which indicate they do in their "blog like" format publishing dated announcements.

If the FTC receives free Adobe Reader software (which they do, just like everyone else), I beleive they must disclose that they have publsihed in Adobe format solely because they do not have to pay for it, (an "in kind" gift and one which surely contributes to their subliminal testimonial of the software's use).

gatonegro




msg:4001676
 6:47 pm on Oct 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

While you're at it FTC...

The Dan Patrick Show (on radio) is horrible at taking a conversation & running right into a "Sleep Number Bed" ad without disclosing itself. Does Dan use this bed as he claims? Shouldn't the ad end w/ "this ad brought to you by XYZ"?

Its all a bunch of BS IMHO.

swa66




msg:4001693
 7:32 pm on Oct 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Guess tackling a big corporation like MSFT is too difficult, so the FTC rather take on a random blogger forgetting to disclaim that the book (s)he wrote a review about was given to her/him for that purpose (and not purchased in a store).

Your tax money at work ...

bears5122




msg:4001718
 8:37 pm on Oct 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

You have to love how there was massive fraud and dishonesty by so many large financial companies over the years, but the regulations we are focusing on is some bloggers making a few dollars in affiliate cash for a review of a product.

lexipixel




msg:4001736
 9:05 pm on Oct 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

The goverment doesn't have time or money to inspect crumbing bridges, reform campaign funding, reel in medicare fraud, trim government speding on "pork", or otherwise regulate or control itself and it's "special interest".

Thank god they are going to finally go after Jane Doe who blogged that she really likes Bumblee Bee more than Starkist after they both sent her some $1.00 off coupons -- and she forgot to mention the coupons.

Staffa




msg:4001742
 9:21 pm on Oct 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hopefully they know what they are doing if/when they put this law in place.

Be assured they don't or they wouldn't come up with this harebrained idea in the first place.

trinorthlighting




msg:4001744
 9:27 pm on Oct 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Ahh, here is what the FTC is after:

"In an effort to hold companies and endorsers accountable, the FTC guidelines state that businesses and reviewers will be liable for any false statements made about a product. If a blogger receives a free sample of skin cream and untruthfully claims it cures eczema, for example, the company and the blogger could be held liable for false advertising.

The addition of qualifying phrases, such as “results may vary” will not release the companies and the endorsees of their products from responsibility for their statements. Instead, companies will have to provide the average results achieved by typical consumers."

[ft.com...]

Future




msg:4001746
 9:28 pm on Oct 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Would Matt Cutts entire blog have to have a disclaimer on it that he is speaking for Google?

Make sense.
How is goverment going to find, if blogs are getting paid or not ?

If anyhow, those are getting paid, how can goverment find out if these blogs are disclosing the right amounts ?

Why goverment failed to make any rules for sponsorers (companies who spend money on this blogs to get there products advertised) ?

I am not afraid, as my country does not falls under this laws !?

A sensible statement here
"In an effort to hold companies and endorsers accountable, the FTC guidelines state that businesses and reviewers will be liable for any false statements made about a product. If a blogger receives a free sample of skin cream and untruthfully claims it cures eczema, for example, the company and the blogger could be held liable for false advertising.
Wont this create further issues ?
Are majority of tie-ups held only online or offline as well ?

trinorthlighting




msg:4001797
 11:42 pm on Oct 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

IMHo, they will only crack down on you if you falsely advertise. They will also crack down on the company as well. This is good im my mind, because it holds the advertiser and publisher liable for misleading the public.

I would not worry to much about this unless you are in the business of false advertising.

wheel




msg:4001817
 1:07 am on Oct 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

There's no 'cracking down if you falsely advertise'. that's assuming that they selectively apply the law for some reason, and I doubt that's the case. I bet it's really not the case if you get hauled in to court on whatever premise - there's the law, you're contravening it.

The idea that this is for false advertising, is in itself false. If they want a law about false advertising, implement a law that says false advertising. And I bet there's already laws about that stuff. This is a law that seems to talk about disclosure - entirely different, and entirely wrong. Why should disclosure on how you're paid for your writing be a law?

Affiliate A writes a blog to promote something. They write glowing reviews, complete made up stuff for no other reason than to sell the product via their affiliate link. That's different? Not really. But that's not regulated. So now we better get cracking on creating a law to stop that!

yaix2




msg:4001848
 2:18 am on Oct 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

"Think about the Dr. giving you the disclaimer before writing the script, "Mrs. Robinson, I need to tell you that GlaxoSmithKline has provided me tens of thousands of dollars in free samples ..."

/That/ would actually be a good idea. But, of course, will not happen.

Regarding the disclosure payments for reviews, any good blog should do it, just like any newspaper should clearly mark advertisements as such. But there is really no need to make it a law.

plumsauce




msg:4001868
 2:49 am on Oct 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

There is nothing new here or more difficult than what exists for media, including international media chains.(so there goes the "what about where it's hosted" arguments).

Advertisement, everyone knows what it is and needs no further disclaimer.

Infomercial or paid article/broadcast that could be confused with regular content requires disclosure.

Regular programming requires no disclosure, except in special cases like financial news where the on air peronalities disclose whether they have holdings or relationships with the company under discussion. It is currently much the same in print media.

This is not new or unworkable. It is a clarification that what is required in other media cannot be ignored on the net. They won't prosecute everybody. They just need the hammer to get at the most egregious cases to make an example. Then, hopefully, everyone toes the line.

The wild west was not exactly all it was cracked up to be. The same on the internet. Excess any where is not really a desirable thing. Excess? Spammers, trojans, drive by downloads. All things perpetrated by people who respect no limits or values in the pursuit of their own personal gain.

mack




msg:4001894
 4:11 am on Oct 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

By targeting this directly at bloggers, it flies right in the face of what a blog actualy is. Its a weblog of opinions. Blogs where not intended to be sources of factual information, they where intended to be the online equivilent if a journal. It can be personal oppinions, corporate views or general ranblings.

Also, when is the site a blog and when is it a website, obviously a blog is a specific type of website, but who has the final say?

What if I run a non blog site but use wordpress with a blog like theme and commnts enabled but write factual information. Am I a blogger?

Mack.

Wicketywick




msg:4002007
 9:44 am on Oct 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

I hate reading reviews which contains obvious "beneficial input for the respective product or company" which actually doesn't contribute to me making an objective decision to buy something. It makes sense to distinguish the type of reviews but I wouldn't know how that can be done best.

I personally don't trust reviews on blogs anymore, they are just to biased to be trusted.

wheel




msg:4002089
 1:31 pm on Oct 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

There is nothing new here or more difficult than what exists for media, including international media chains.(so there goes the "what about where it's hosted" arguments).

Traditional media ethics won't fly with me. Our largest national chain in the past year has done the following:
1) spammed my 12 year old kid's email (that I intercept) on his blog about toys, wondering if he'd like to advertise. They're scraping directories for sites, scraping the site for an email, then blasting the email.
2) they have websites that directly compete in my market. And they take out huge ads in all of their papers - from the national dailies to the local rural weeklies. Full page ads sometimes. But they're there all the time. And nowhere - on the site or the ads do they disclose that the site (which has nothing to do with media, it's aking to a mortgage lead site) is owned by them. In fact, until they got called out on it, the about page talked about the 'founder and president', a celebrity who'd long since been bought out. So they're giving the impression that there's a company in my niche that can afford to run huge ongoing ads in these papers, when in fact they get their ads for free. I can't afford that kind of exposure. The fact that the ownership is hidden is telling.

No, the traditional media is quite willing to stretch things where they need to in order to make a buck these days.

Walt Stumper




msg:4002139
 2:52 pm on Oct 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

For all those non-U.S. residents who are breathing a sigh of relieve that THEIR country doesn't do this sort of thing...

I can only remind them that the U.S. government has for some time been eyeing with envy/lust the tangle of laws, rules & regulations, VATs, and European Union style of 'regulation' being implemented on the Continent. We just want what you already have!

weeks




msg:4002212
 4:50 pm on Oct 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

I think there is a reasonable fear in some quarters that the bad is going to drive out the good. I don't think so, but I understand the concern.

Even Google is trying to address all of the self-serving junk being presented as "news."

Last month, Google News made a small and mysterious change to the way it displays some news sources: “We’re now visibly marking articles published on a news blog with a ‘(blog)’ label attached to the publication’s name,” Google explained, attributing the switch to user feedback. The label, a spokesman later told me, applies to any content “published through blogging software.”
[niemanlab.org...]

Twitter needs to do something, if they can, as well.

One thing that is going to happen is that legit news sources will be more appreciated. It would be wise if they marketed themselves this way more directly, and go after blogs that are misleading.

I think the FTC is wise to consider this, but I'd like to see individuals and firms (large and small, i.e: you) to look at doing something to "certify" sources.

For example, WW could set up a board that people had to pay to get into, thus creating a filter of a sort. And, on the public board, they could rate the posters with time posting, starting with new user. And, of course, WW could use mods with some degree of expertise to police the content, in some cases just calling out questionable logic.

If WW did that, it would be a first-class board. Oh, wait, that is exactly what it does.

This 37 message thread spans 2 pages: 37 ( [1] 2 > >
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