I’m sure by now you’ve probably seen that the FTC has set new guidelines for bloggers. I’ve been reading comments on both the pro and con side of the issue. Some folks argue that this is long overdue. Without specific rules people will take payments to promote products and services whether they actually like them of not.
The other side says that this is not needed and is probably weakening the First Amendment to our Constitution. The government has no business infringing on our freedom of speech. Our right to lie, so to speak. Personally I’m on this side a bit more than the other, but I can see good arguments for both sides.
What I’ve decided is that it probably won’t make a bit of difference either way. Bloggers (or anyone else) who are willing to lie about a product or service will soon lose their credibility. It doesn’t matter if there’s payment or not or what they disclose. The biggest problem with rule in my mind is that while the FTC says that you have to disclose the relationship between you and your sponsor, they don’t mention how it must be done. So while many people are writing about how they think it should be done, they’re just guessing. It seems that it can be done in many ways. Here’s mine…
Disclaimer – There may be some people or companies out there crazy enough to pay me money or give me merchandise for my opinion or review of their product and/or service. If they do I’m going to take it.
I’m not a lawyer, but from reading this rule I believe this small blurb or something like it may be actually enough to satisfy the rule. It doesn’t even say that it has to be on the same page as the endorsement.
While my statement may not actually be enough disclosure, the rule is gray enough that you could argue it is. I don’t expect that anyone will actually offer me anything for my public opinion and I would like to think that I wouldn’t give a positive review to something that I really don’t like, but I did write a post on this topic a couple of years ago called I Probably Can Be Bought.
Some people will continue to ignore this rule and if I were a big enough celebrity that was worth more than the $11,000 fine I might consider risking it. In addition if by some fluke I was caught and publicly fined, the resulting publicity would probably be worth much more than that anyway, so the company might even cover it.
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