According to the New York Times, bloggers are going to have to be more careful about disclosing connections with advertisers.
The F.T.C. said that beginning on Dec. 1, bloggers who review products
must disclose any connection with advertisers, including, in most
cases, the receipt of free products and whether or not they were paid
in any way by advertisers, as occurs frequently.
The Times adds,
For bloggers who review products, this means that the days of an
unimpeded flow of giveaways may be over. More broadly, the move
suggests that the government is intent on bringing to bear on the
Internet the same sorts of regulations that have governed other forms
of media, like television or print.
Of all the stupidity.
What flow of giveaways? I've had publishers send me a couple of books. One time, I received some boxes of Mac n' Cheese. I've heard that the mommybloggers get stuff, but I'm sure it's a small group of bloggers with the biggest audiences. Dealing with thorny ethical matters about receiving free stuff is a problem that most of us would be happy to have.
Bloggers, for the most part, aren't corporate shills. If I started giving reviews of products I didn't believe in, I would very quickly have no audience. Actually, if I started reviewing products of any kind other than books, even ones I believed in, I would probably lose my audience.
The bigger problem are publishers and corporations that try to manipulate the bloggers. Recently, a publisher tried to lure me into promoting a book by inviting me to a psuedo-conference. I was plenty pissed off. Corporations may also be posing as bloggers to sell products. My favorite are the pornographers who follow me on Twitter, but pretend to be regular people.
I do get a 6% kickback when I link to Amazon and then you buy something there. Which reminds me, if you need something at Amazon, please click here.
As a group, the blogosphere may be a powerful thing, but the individuals aren't. There are a handful of people who have made money at this thing; most aren't making a cent. They aren't receiving swag. They are providing a service with very little to zero compensation.
And then there's the impossibility of enforcing this regulation. Who is going to chase down every single blogger to check their disclosure statements?
The latest F.T.C. regulation is ridiculous. It makes false assumptions about the profitability of blogging and the stupidity of readers. It lacks any the teeth of enforcement. It goes after the wrong bad guys.