The new FTC guidelines for disclosure by bloggers have stirred up some anger among bloggers accustomed to getting free stuff and blogging about it without the heavy hand of governmental Big Brother yadda yadda – oh, you can finish the sentence yourself.
I can respect that it might get people’s backs up to suggest that their integrity is for sale, especially for such low prices. (Although, the last time I checked the exchange rate, integrity was down sharply against the dollar… and against the free chewing gum.) Then again, I’ve seen enough obviously feigned enthusiasm in some “reviews” to convince me that at least a few bloggers are happy to rent their voices – and readers – to any marketing department with a gift card and blogger outreach program.
All easy enough for me to say, of course; I have a job and make a pretty good living (touch wood). I can imagine that I might be tempted to modify my views if money was short and a blog review could put another meal on the table for my kids. Then again, for every blogger out there who’s struggling to make ends meet, there are countless more blog readers – the people the marketers are really trying to reach. Don’t they deserve to know about the relationship between product and blogger when they assess what they’re reading?
I’m a fan of disclosure, and while I haven’t examined the FTC guidelines in detail, I support the idea in principle.
But it’s interesting that the FTC went after bloggers rather than, say, entertainment writers who don’t mention the expensive junkets that movie studios take them on. A blogger who has to disclose that she or he received a free package of hot dog weiners has every right to feel burned after dropping fifty bucks to take the family to the latest “THRILLING!” “FANTASTIC!” “SURE-FIRE WINNER!”