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Old 10-05-2009, 04:15 PM   #1
sforce
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Bloggers Must Disclose Product Ties

Given how often bloggers offer their opinions on devices such as eReaders, I believe the below to be important--and welcome--news.

The Wall Street Journal
WASHINGTON -- Bloggers, Tweeters and online marketers will have to tell consumers when they are paid or given freebies to write positive reviews or postings, federal regulators said Monday.

The Federal Trade Commission released updated guidelines Monday designed to provide clarity for bloggers and other online writers about their responsibility to provide consumer disclosure as well as liability issues they face for making false or deceptive claims about products and services.

The agency unveiled a draft of the proposed guidelines last year, prompting debate in the blogging community about how much disclosure writers must provide and which ethical rules, if any, they should follow.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125475547130664753.html

Read the FTC guidance here:
http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/endortest.shtm
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Old 10-05-2009, 04:20 PM   #2
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I fully support the decision of the FTC. What help is a blogger's review if he or she got paid to write the review by the very company whose product is being reviewed...
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Old 10-05-2009, 04:23 PM   #3
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LOL.

I refuse to tell the FTC anything.

They can pound sand.

Why? I don't get PAID by anyone for writing a blog and if I chose to write something positive or negative about something, it's on me.
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Old 10-05-2009, 04:46 PM   #4
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Why? I don't get PAID by anyone for writing a blog and if I chose to write something positive or negative about something, it's on me.
(emphasis added)

That is exactly the point.
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Old 10-05-2009, 04:49 PM   #5
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Do they have a legal definition of 'blogger?' I mean, if somebody sends me something to review, while I feel a personal obligation to make this known, to make it a legal one seems to me to be extremely draconian. The only exception I could see would be for those who are professional bloggers (i.e. those who are employed to blog and to tweet, etc.); the local, state, and federal governments have a long tradition of regulating professions according to community ethical standards. This could be seen as simply an extension of that tradition.
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Old 10-05-2009, 04:54 PM   #6
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I'm really torn by this, but I guess now's the time to come clean about that Lamborghini review I did last year....







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Old 10-05-2009, 04:56 PM   #7
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I heard about this. Wonderful!!!
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Old 10-05-2009, 04:56 PM   #8
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if you read more of the changes to the GUILDLINES, not laws BTW, they also address using exceptional results then a disclaimer that results are atypical and not necessarily representative of what everyone else will have. I think these are all excellent improvements in the truth in advertising guidelines and eventually these guidelines will hit the courts for rulings.

good stuff.
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Old 10-05-2009, 05:05 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luqmaninbmore View Post
Do they have a legal definition of 'blogger?' I mean, if somebody sends me something to review, while I feel a personal obligation to make this known, to make it a legal one seems to me to be extremely draconian. The only exception I could see would be for those who are professional bloggers (i.e. those who are employed to blog and to tweet, etc.); the local, state, and federal governments have a long tradition of regulating professions according to community ethical standards. This could be seen as simply an extension of that tradition.
It is not about being being a "professional blogger" it is about said blogger being sent a sample to review, which these reviewers always have to return so it can be sent to other reviewers vs. being GIVEN the thing being reviewed or something else's as a "thank you" for the review. The point of the "gift" is to pass along the subtle, well not so subtle, "give us a good review and we will give you more good stuff...bad review...thanks for your time maybe sometime, someday, hopefully in your lifetime we will ask you to review something else..." In other-words, these companies are lobbying for positive evaluations using out of date guidelines via bribery.

The guidelines make clear that while not all failures to comply will not be found, all they need to do is find a few cases, prosecute those, win, and we will start to see more honest evaluations.

Last edited by brecklundin; 10-05-2009 at 08:17 PM.
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Old 10-05-2009, 05:16 PM   #10
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find a few cases, prosecute those, win, and we will start to see more honest evaluations.
I wonder what they'd try & charge a non-US-based blogger with...
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Old 10-05-2009, 05:25 PM   #11
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I once called the Frag Dolls shills, so I'm up for that. (When they started, their website didn't exactly make their corperate-team nature apparent)
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Old 10-05-2009, 05:27 PM   #12
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Actually, now that I read it...

These look to be guidelines enforced on the company, not the blogger. So if a company "hires" a blogger to endorse a product, the company must disclose that the blogger was either paid or given a freebie. The blogger isn't going to get into trouble, the company is.

If the blog isn't being claimed as an endorsement of the product, then I'm not sure if these FTC guidelines apply.

Last edited by Shaggy; 10-05-2009 at 05:56 PM.
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Old 10-05-2009, 05:42 PM   #13
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From the article (emphasis added):
"While the 1980 Guides did not explicitly state that endorsers as well as advertisers could be liable under the FTC Act for statements they make in an endorsement, the revised Guides reflect Commission case law and clearly state that both advertisers and endorsers may be liable for false or unsubstantiated claims made in an endorsement – or for failure to disclose material connections between the advertiser and endorsers. ... In any law enforcement action challenging the allegedly deceptive use of testimonials or endorsements, the Commission would have the burden of proving that the challenged conduct violates the FTC Act."

It looks like it doesn't matter to them what bloggers do--as long as there's no accusation of fraud. Bloggers who receive a free whatever for writing a review aren't exactly required to say so--but not saying so could be considered misleading, especially if it's a glowing review of a so-so product.

I suspect it's not designed to go after individual bloggers who occasionally agree to review a book or widget for a free one to keep, but to put a hold on company-employed bloggers & tweeters and let them know they're liable for any problems caused by people thinking they were singing the praises of MegaCorp from the goodness of their hearts.
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Old 10-05-2009, 05:58 PM   #14
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I suspect it's not designed to go after individual bloggers who occasionally agree to review a book or widget for a free one to keep, but to put a hold on company-employed bloggers & tweeters and let them know they're liable for any problems caused by people thinking they were singing the praises of MegaCorp from the goodness of their hearts.
That's the way I interpret it as well. This is designed to go after companies that are getting people to write fraudulent blogs as endorsements, not independent bloggers.
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Old 10-05-2009, 06:21 PM   #15
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This strikes me as un-enforceable.
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