Monday, June 22, 2009

Dear FTC, stay the fuck out of my internet

Recently, I read a post at ARS Technica that really angered me. Apparently, the FTC wants to crack down on undisclosed sponsored blogging. The Federal Trade Commission wants to make bloggers "back up any claims made" and "disclose [any] compensation" that a blogger gets for a post.

Anyone that regularly visits blogs may sometimes come across material that seems like someone is promoting a product, service, etc. with way too much enthusiasm, suggesting it may be a sponsored post. I agree that these posts may be misleading, but these tactics are commonly used in print materials (which have been around alot longer than blogging). Why no FTC complaint there?

Also, the FTC have neglected to give any information about their proposal and how much 'disclosure' is required.
"If you walk into a department store, you know the (sales) clerk is a clerk," said Rich Cleland, assistant director in the FTC's division of advertising practices. "Online, if you think that somebody is providing you with independent advice and ... they have an economic motive for what they're saying, that's information a consumer should know."
A blogger and a sales clerk have much in common. Both share their opinions, and both can sometimes be biased and/or influenced by money or other goods. What if I put a disclaimer at the end of my blog saying that I accept incentive based posts? Is that enough disclosure? A sales clerk simply wears a nametag, he doesn't have to disclose the percentage of the sale he gets as commission, so why should I have to say what I get in return for my posts?

And to all of you who have been 'misled' by blogger posts, isn't it common knowledge that you should take everything on the internet with a grain of salt?


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