Hey, bloggers, did you just write a review of a product you received for free?
Then you better tell the world, or else the FTC is going to fine you up to $11,000:
AP: The Federal Trade Commission will try to regulate blogging for the first time, requiring writers on the Web to clearly disclose any freebies or payments they get from companies for reviewing their products.
The FTC said Monday its commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the final Web guidelines, which had been expected. Violating the rules, which take effect Dec. 1, could bring fines up to $11,000 per violation. Bloggers or advertisers also could face injunctions and be ordered to reimburse consumers for financial losses stemming from inappropriate product reviews.
The commission stopped short of specifying how bloggers must disclose conflicts of interest. Rich Cleland, assistant director of the FTC’s advertising practices division, said the disclosure must be “clear and conspicuous,” no matter what form it will take.
Bloggers have long praised or panned products and services online. But what some consumers might not know is that many companies pay reviewers for their write-ups or give them free products such as toys or computers or trips to Disneyland. In contrast, at traditional journalism outlets, products borrowed for reviews generally have to be returned.
Never mind that TV, radio, and print publications have never had any such disclosure requirement (and still won’t). Never mind that there’s no way to enforce this except to subpoena any blogger who ever says anything positive about anything to be sure they haven’t been given free stuff. Never mind that consumers aren’t three-year old morons. Never mind that there are plenty of other reasons people are biased other than having been paid.
The government must protect you (and mainstream media) from those dangerous bloggers!