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Official F.T.C.: Bloggers Must Now Disclose Paid Endorsements

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Yes, new FTC guidelines extend to Facebook fan pages | The Social - CNET News

Prominent users of Twitter and Facebook won't be exempt from controversial new Federal Trade Commission guidelines that keep tabs on blogger freebies and giveaways, according to Richard Cleland, associate director for the FTC's advertising division. The agency absolutely plans to keep tabs on social networks as well as blogs in accordance with revised regulations that could see violators fined up to $11,000, he said.
Here's a sample scenario: a celebrity or other prominent figure with loads of friends on Facebook receives free hotel says from Hotel Chain X in exchange for running Hotel Chain X ads on his or her blog. If that person then signs up as a Facebook fan of Hotel Chain X--which, remember, could mean that the person's name can show up for his or her Facebook friends alongside Hotel Chain X display ads on the social network--he or she could be held liable by the FTC.


"It would be the same thing if you were going to pay the celebrity a thousand dollars to go register as a fan," Cleland said. "In that case, there wouldn't be any question about it."


digg_url = 'http://digg.com/tech_news/Yes_new_FTC_guidelines_extend_to_Facebook_fan_page s';Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt told CNET News that the social network doesn't have anything concrete to say in reaction to the new regulations just yet. "I don't think we have anything to say other than that we've had an ongoing dialogue with the FTC and we'd love to talk to them more about what this means," Schnitt said. "I think we're already consistent with the spirit of it."
Schnitt added that some of the practices that may be encompassed by the new FTC guidelines are already banned by Facebook. "We say in our statement of Rights and Responsibilities, and people actually applauded this when we added it in a few months ago, that you will not use your personal profile for your own commercial gain such as selling your status to an advertiser." This is contained in section 4.2 of the document, he said.
As for Twitter, the FTC isn't letting you get a pass with the excuse that 140 characters--Twitter's famous text limit--is simply too short. "There are ways to abbreviate a disclosure that fit within 140 characters," Cleland said. "You may have to say a little bit of something else, but if you can't make the disclosure, you can't make the ad."


The question still remains as to exactly how the new guidelines will be enforced, given the sheer scope of online media--not to mention the millions upon millions of active Twitter and Facebook users.
"As a practical matter, we don't have the resources to look at 500,000 blogs," Cleland said. "We don't even have the resources to monitor a thousand blogs. And if somebody reports violations then we might look at individual cases, but in the bigger picture, we think that we have a reason to believe that if bloggers understand the circumstances under which a disclosure should be made, that they'll be able to make the disclosure. Right now we're trying to focus on education."


That's worth highlighting. Small-time bloggers freaking out over whether the FTC will really crack down on them may be pleased to know that the FTC at least claims its aim is to make everyone aware of what's right and wrong rather than to hunt down every Twitter user who may have been given a free toaster or something. Unless, that is, somebody rats them out--and at least one blogger is already raising concerns that angry readers may use the regulations to attempt to get back at blogs they don't like.
Industry blogger Peter Feld of Brandchannel thinks he can see another outcome. "A safe prediction for 2010: some big scandal when the first celebrity to run afoul of the new rules, by promoting a product on Twitter or a talk show, gets fined by the FTC."
post #2 of 15

Re: Official F.T.C.: Bloggers Must Now Disclose Paid Endorsements

I was very happy to read that yesterday
The truth will come out, for real.
post #3 of 15

Re: Official F.T.C.: Bloggers Must Now Disclose Paid Endorsements

I read this last night on E!Online. I wonder if they really are going to enforce it/people are really gonna do it. This shall be interesting.
post #4 of 15

Re: Official F.T.C.: Bloggers Must Now Disclose Paid Endorsements

That is interesting; but I think that it might be hard to enforce on such a big scale. I love the idea though!
post #5 of 15

Re: Official F.T.C.: Bloggers Must Now Disclose Paid Endorsements

Long Over due ...I was pretty happy when I read it....
post #6 of 15

Re: Official F.T.C.: Bloggers Must Now Disclose Paid Endorsements

I think it will be a really good thing for consumers. Finally consumers will have the information they need to know and judge if they can trust reviews.
post #7 of 15

Re: Official F.T.C.: Bloggers Must Now Disclose Paid Endorsements

The idea is good but the scope and implementation is highly flawed. What about celebrities that are given free products to talk about them in interviews, or photographed wearing them? Or what about corporate blogs?

The implementation will have very limited scope as its only applicable to USA too. And I have no idea how they are going to enforce it - it seems like a huge burden of bureaucracy.

Also, even being given a free sample is considered as "payment" and endorsement under these rules. Totally silly, as that's how many bloggers work, everything from technical or gadget computer blogs, to beauty, fashion, etc. I do not think getting a sample to review is considered "payment".
post #8 of 15

Re: Official F.T.C.: Bloggers Must Now Disclose Paid Endorsements

Quote:
Originally Posted by purrtykitty View Post
I think it will be a really good thing for consumers. Finally consumers will have the information they need to know and judge if they can trust reviews.
I agree. There are so many phonies out there that lie to you about reviews just to get freebies. I love the youtubers and bloggers that say they won't review something on their channel unless it's worth reviewing. That's honesty. For those who aren't honest, the truth shall be revealed and everyone will be given an honest review instead of a paid review.
post #9 of 15

Re: Official F.T.C.: Bloggers Must Now Disclose Paid Endorsements

Quote:
Originally Posted by MissChievous View Post
The idea is good but the scope and implementation is highly flawed. What about celebrities that are given free products to talk about them in interviews, or photographed wearing them? Or what about corporate blogs?

The implementation will have very limited scope as its only applicable to USA too. And I have no idea how they are going to enforce it - it seems like a huge burden of bureaucracy.

Also, even being given a free sample is considered as "payment" and endorsement under these rules. Totally silly, as that's how many bloggers work, everything from technical or gadget computer blogs, to beauty, fashion, etc. I do not think getting a sample to review is considered "payment".

Lots of people can get free samples. Not everyone can get full brush sets or skin care products worth 100s of dollars.
post #10 of 15

Re: Official F.T.C.: Bloggers Must Now Disclose Paid Endorsements

I never thought about celebrities being photographed and such, but, ever since hearing Beyonce talk about how much bags and clothes she has that she'll never get to use/wear it's second nature to think twice about designer brands now. I don't have the cash to drop on them but...relative to every day brands, I think I'll stick to trusting my own instincts and reading reviews by girlies like you and I. I love that UO, Karmaloop, and Sephora has real people on their reviews that give it straight up. Even on here there are girls in the review sections that do the same. I don't really buy into the whole Guru/Celeb thing.
post #11 of 15

Re: Official F.T.C.: Bloggers Must Now Disclose Paid Endorsements

Quote:
Originally Posted by ImMACnificent View Post
Lots of people can get free samples. Not everyone can get full brush sets or skin care products worth 100s of dollars.
No maybe not, but companies can stand to do substantial business based solely on a positive review of an influential person, in which case sending such a sample is an incredibly cheap form of advertisement. That's why celebs are sent so much free stuff, in the hopes that they will say something positive about a product in an interview, or be photographed wearing the clothes, etc. Sending a brush set for $100 or something is peanuts in comparison to the hundreds or even thousands of dollars such a company can stand to make in some cases, based solely on the work and time input of said blogger - it can be a rather unbalanced relationship. This is why some people have begun charging for product placement fees as they feel slightly taken advantage of. Not everyone does this though. I can see that this is definitely a slippery slope, and some people might abuse this by giving glowing reviews simply for money, so I don't think the FTC rules are entirely out of place. But I do think the implementation is flawed, and will have limited scope, as I said.


Also, the FTC rules are a major ethical double standard. If new media is beginning to hold just as much value as traditional media, then why is the new media held to much different standards than traditional media?

Quote:
My problem is that the traditional media receives product and gifts on a regular basis, and never, ever have I seen a disclosure in a magazine, television report, newspaper article or radio broadcast.

In an email conversation with Sonja, she recalls reading in the book Beauty Confidential by Nadine Jolie… “Which talks about all the perks beauty editors get. Along with product samples, they get Marc Jacobs bags, clothes, and gift cards as “thank you’s” for nice write-ups. And that doesn’t even cover what happens with preferential treatment companies get when they buy ad space and ads right next to so-called reviews.” Jolie herself even mentions in her own FTC post that ‘But does swag still happen? You bet…and much more with editors than with bloggers. Cover that, FTC.’

So basically, the FTC and traditional media think bloggers need Big Brother to show us the way. It’s insulting, but aside from writing posts about it, there’s not much else we can do. It’s not enough that the best bloggers are ethical, and hold value the relationship with their readers more than a free lipstick. The thought that bloggers can’t handle freebies and magazine editors can is laughable, I love magazine articles about buying Chanel boots and going to spas in Bali, and the bloggers I’ve heard about who act ‘greedy’ according to Page Ranking’s have about 3 subscribers.

I’m not sure what’s going on here, or why they’ve picked on bloggers, but it’s not right. The problem can’t be that rampant, because I’ve never heard of any real instance of that occurring and I know a few bloggers. Granted it is a bit of the wild west, and it is a bit chaotic, but it really should be up to BLOGGERS to ‘level the playing field’ not the FTC. I do not believe they are acting in the best interest of the consumers because if they were, then they’d enforce the same rules on every other media outlet.
FTC Ruling : An Ethical Double Standard? | Independent Fashion Bloggers

It definitely is a double standard, and I think the ruling is very heavy handed and automatically assumes the worst of bloggers, that they don't have an ethical backbone to their body. Which is totally untrue, I think bloggers are much more ethical and reliable than traditional media, yet the FTC has made no such rules for magazines, newspapers, etc. So, do they really have the consumer's interest at heart?

Also another article:
FTC Tells Amateur Bloggers to Disclose Freebies or Be Fined | Epicenter | Wired.com


So, the issue is not as cut and dry as some people think.

Quote:
My main problem with the ruling though, is that it shouldn’t only apply to bloggers, it should apply to all media. Why are print magazines still allowed to list their top favourite products, which all happen to be from the same parent company, but under various labels, and not feel any shame? Magazines have been scamming the public for decades in that case! Also, blogs are international so how will this ruling affect blogs outside the US, but which have large US audiences? What about US based blogs that target international audiences? Will the FTC be prosecuting any of these groups? I question whether this ruling will have any effect at all on countering the larger problem of journalistic integrity. What is really needed is to treat all media with the same rules. The media needs to understand that if their audience cannot trust them, then they will lose them, just as magazines are losing share to blogs. If you lose the audience, you lose the money. Simple as that. Bloggers take note.
Enforcing Integrity or Cash Grab: FTC ruling on bloggers
post #12 of 15

Re: Official F.T.C.: Bloggers Must Now Disclose Paid Endorsements

What if you write up a review and the company you reviewed sends you a non-related thank you?

I only blog about Houston stuff. But, I wrote a great review on a place that I PAID to go to, and they sent me a $5 Starbucks gift card as a thank you for the kind words. The review was over a month ago, I've been back several times since, and they have never tried to "buy" me by giving me anything at their facility for free.

Would you consider that to be unethical? I really want to know, because I need to return something like that. If anyone should ever thank me again.

Ahahahahha, all I've gotten is a $5 gift card. My blog sucks.

Just an FYI, I'm honestly interested to know if this is an issue. I really don't care about people "gifting" me or getting samples. I would return something of value used to "influence" me. But, a $5 gc to a place that had no relation to the company I reviewed? Thoughts?
post #13 of 15

Re: Official F.T.C.: Bloggers Must Now Disclose Paid Endorsements

In the article I read....It states if a Blogger receives a product free like a American Airline Plane ticket (merely an example) and then they turn around and uhhh and ahhhh about how wonderful American Airline is and how it's the best airline etc, they need to disclose they got free AA tickets so that may be swaying their opinions of the airline....I don't see how if Nordies (example again) gave you a Starbucks card and you bragged about how great Nordies was ...how that has anything to do with the Starbucks Freebie.... Just IMO because you are not saying Starbucks has the best coffee I have ever tasted based off the fact you got it free ...But what the hell do I know I don't blog or 100% care about the whole Blog world to be honest with ya...Just offereing my thoughts
post #14 of 15

Re: Official F.T.C.: Bloggers Must Now Disclose Paid Endorsements

I do blog but my blog is small and merely an outlet for me to be able to display my love of cosmetics as in my day job I can't really express that side of me. I have been offered free stuff or even offered to host contest with give-away prices but so far I have rejected them. But if a blogger did accept the offers and got say a mascara, I don't see it as big deal to have to talk about it.

Again blogging does take time and effort...unlike celebrity that just get free stuff simply for "existing" lol! Oh and I agree with MissChievous on the media being much more greedy and unethical than bloggers. Maybe this rule should apply to them first....
post #15 of 15

Re: Official F.T.C.: Bloggers Must Now Disclose Paid Endorsements

TISH-you are so funny! How sad that my little Starbucks card stressed me out. When I received it I sweat for about a week. I was so nervous. Aahahaah, LOSER!!!!!!
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