FTC Gets Stupid And Targets Blogs
This is why many of us don’t trust government agencies.
Today it was announced that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is going to start targeting blogs and celebrities for truth in advertising laws. In essence, what they’re saying is that they’re going after blogs and celebrities who endorse something without disclosing whether they’ve been paid for that endorsement or not. What they’re also including are freebies that bloggers sometimes get from someone else to get them to say favorable things about that product. And, if they find someone in violation, fines could be as high as $11,000; ouch!
Here’s the thing. None of us like going to a blog and reading something that we know is a puff piece. I figure that many people write positive reviews of stuff because they’re hoping to make money from supporting that item. Nothing wrong with that; I do it myself from time to time.
What I’ve never done, though, is written something positive about something that I didn’t either purchase or check out first. As a matter of fact, on my I’m Just Sharing blog, I’ve written both positive and negative things about all sorts of stuff. In other words, I’ve written the truth. And, as you saw here when I wrote about one of the Skinny On books, even though I gave it a great review, in that post I disclosed that they had sent me the book. That was my only “payment”; I’m thinking that wasn’t payment at all. I mean, I still had to read the thing, and if that was a paid gig then I lost a lot of money on it.
Even the FTC acknowledges that it’s a law they probably can’t enforce. They have limited staff, and they’re not planning on increasing staff, and, well, let’s face it, there’s close to 90 million blogs in the world. So, am I worried that they’re going to suddenly start tracking me to see what I’m saying about something?
Well, yes and no. Anyone remember Carnivore? This was the secret program that got outed that the government set up where they could track certain keywords whenever they came up on the internet, then investigate at will. Suddenly conversation about it has left, but who’s to say that the FTC wouldn’t have access to something like this to track certain products and the like?
Supposedly the FTC plans on going after advertisers more than the rest of us. Frankly, I think this is going to turn into one of those whistleblower types of things, where someone’s going to write something that doesn’t smack of being truthful and report them to the FTC. If they do the kind of hack job on bloggers that they did on CBS over the Janet Jackson incident, it could shake up the blogging world.
And none of us needs to deal with any of that.