The FTC, My Blog and Your Right to Know!

According to reports published yesterday by the Associated Press, the Federal Trade Commission plans to monitor blogs as part of their enforcement of revisions to 16 C.F.R. Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. It seems that the FTC is concerned that bloggers that write about products should be considered “endorsements” and therefore subject to the same regulations as advertisers. According to the draft I read, this would apply to bloggers regardless of whether they advertise on their blog or not. I’m frankly shocked that the FTC would consider a blog post to have the same impact that a paid advertisement would on radio, television or in the print media.

Just so we’re all clear on this issue. I have not and do not accept any remuneration from any company who’s products I use and write about. I have not and do not plan to accept advertisements on my blog. In fact, I pay extra to WordPress.com to ensure that no advertisements are displayed on my blog. All opinions written in this blog are my opinions only and do not reflect any scientific evidence on the validity of these opinions. I do not write about these products to influence your decision to purchase these products and obviously, your own expereinces with these products or similar products will be different than mine. Basically, take everything I say with a big grain of salt and use your own common sense.

Now, having said that, I do not plan to change the content of my blog, nor to stop writing about photographic products or techniques that I find helpful. As far as I know, we still live in a country where freedom of speach is protected by our Constitution and Bill of Rights and I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if I’ll let the FTC tell me what I can and cannot write on my blog.

8 thoughts on “The FTC, My Blog and Your Right to Know!

  1. What I find especially disconcerting is the proposed amended definition of “expert”. By their definition, an “expert” is anyone who proclaims extensive personal interest and experience (and not simply one who has a professional training or studied expertise) with regards to a particular product or service.

    Consider the initial motivation for implementing the Interstate Commerce Commission. It was established initially to monitor and regulate the sales of illegal and unsafe products and services crossing state lines, but has since devolved into a tax-collection mechanism. So one has to consider too with these amended changes to include blogs and social networking sites the potential next regulatory steps with regards to 1st Amendment issues, tax claims and property seizures, domestic terrorism survelliance….

    What if as a blogger of political or social issues, Im enthusiastic about the efforts of a community service organization, a public awareness campaign, or god forbid, a political action group? I think the implications extend much further than simple consumer “protection”…

  2. Have you seen some of the blogs on this “alltop…”?? Some of them seem to be blatantly pushing the crap they run ads for and the sad part is the blogger doesn’t say he/she is being sponsored.
    Not that I care, as I take all this with a grain of salt but some folks may actually believe the hype.
    Best,
    J

  3. Seems to me that politicians (be it in the States or be it in Europe) just don’t have a clue on what the internet is/should be.

    Seems also to me that they are trying to make laws for the internet that have nothing to do with us, the citizens and our rights; but they are trying to make laws for the big companies.

    That being said -in my very humble opinion- I wish you keep on the good job as usual. I like the blog as it is.

    Cheers

    • Thanks Jaime,

      I don’t have any plans to change my blog but I thought it was important that folks know what the FTC is up to.

      Jeff

  4. I agree completely with your sentiments. To put this issue in some context, on the one hand a few years ago large software companies were pushing for laws that would have required legitimate reviewers to obtain a company’s approval before publishing comparative reviews (I am not sure how that worked out in the end). And on the other hand we have an ever increasing amount of viral advertising: product endorsements from people who are paid to promote a product while appearing not to do so. These people include bloggers, posters to newsgroups and forums, and even guests at parties.

    Our rights and privileges are being eroded continually by commercial interests and it would seem that our participation in society is slowly being limited to one single role: that of consumer. So it goes. Best of luck to all of us.

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