As of today the FTC has made it perfectly clear – bloggers are a bunch of scum who will do everything possible to suck in their readers to purchase products that they have been prompted to say are the best thing since sliced bread because the company who gave them the product expects them to. We as bloggers apparently have no mind of our owns and can easily be swayed by some humping dog USB or a laptop that we wouldn’t normally be able to spend a thousand or two to buy.
It doesn’t matter if we write something cool about Field Notes, the latest cookie-cutter game, of a cutting edge smartphone. It only matters that we wrote something about that product. It doesn’t matter that we called out a product for being the piece of crap that it is or if it is actually something that helps us in our daily computing life. We’re just stupid and need to be told that our readers are stupid as well and that without the FTC stepping in and letting our readers know that bloggers are evil because we didn’t let them know we might have gotten something for free.
Of course our journalistic betters (at least in the eyes of the FTC) don’t have to follow the same <cough> guidelines </cough> that are being forced up bloggers. When was the last time that you heard of a movie review letting their readers know that they had been given tickets to the hottest shows or that unlike the rest of the rubes don’t wait in all those same line-ups. Not to mention that until recently people like Pogue, Mossberg or any other number of tech reviews for newspapers declared the fact that they got freebies to reviews. I was only since bloggers started suggesting that if this was the way it was to be or them then it should be the same for everyone,
In a comment to a post by Jeff Jarvis (well worth the read) Matt Cutts of Google’s Spam team had the audacity to agree with the move by the FTC. His reasoning – all those evil bloggers polluting the Google stream:
As a Google engineer who has seen the damage done by fake blogs, sock puppets, and endless scams on the internet, I’m happy to take the opposite position: I think the FTC guidelines will make the web more useful and more trustworthy for consumers. Consumers don’t want to be shilled and they don’t want payola; they want a web that they can trust. The FTC guidelines just say that material connections should be disclosed. From having dealt with these issues over several years, I believe that will be a good thing for the web.
Please. This is a fine example of FUD and shifting the responsibility of trying to keep the garbage out of the web. Nothing, absolutely nothing in the FTC pointed attack against bloggers will have any effect against sploggers and the like. You want to clean up that mess then Google should be looking a lot closer to home especially consider that the majority of all that blog spam can be traced back to Blogger.com – which by the way is owned by Google.
Sorry Matt but that is just a bullshit argument pure and simple. Threatening bloggers, and their advertisers with a $11,000 fine isn’t going to do a single thing to stop that kind of crap polluting the blogosphere.
As long as the FTC is willing to let the newspaper industry to self-regulate itself then that should also be good enough for bloggers since in many cases I would suggest that career bloggers have as much ethics or even more more than a lot of journalist who are probably laughing their ass off right now about how those asshole bloggers have finally gotten their comeuppance.
Then we have real jerk-offs like Jake Ellis, a spokesman for the Consumer Federation of America, who don’t think that the FTC has gone far enough. It is his opinion that bloggers would be gone after and have as much pressure applied on them as possible because of course we all know that our opinion is something that our long time readers aren’t smart enough to see as the scam that it is.
The really sad part of this is the fact that there are some big successful blogs who think this move is just peachy because unlike them the rest of the blogosphere is nothing but unscrupulous bloggers that do nothing but deceive their readers in order to get all those goodies.
Here’s some questions though that still remain to be answered and if they aren’t then this whole thing is nothing more than a power grab and a way to try and shut up one of the largest growing forms of journalism this world has seen
1. Will these same ‘guidelines’ be applied against “traditional media” and if not – why not?
2. What exact form do these disclosure need to take? Per post? Per page? Per comment?
3. Is this retroactive? Does this mean that sites like Gizmodo, TechCrunch, Mashable, – well every single blog past and present will have to go through all their archives and add a disclaimer. Because we all know that posts that are even months or years old can resurface.
4.Will book publisher make signing a discloser form a part of bloggers doing book reviews and is it really worth the effort at that point?
5. Does the country of origin of the writer matter as to whether a disclosure is included?
6. Does it matter the country of origin of where the blog served from come into play?
7 Does the country of origin of the product, service or book come into play at all?
Not only does something like this draconian move by the FTC insinuate that all bloggers are stupid and evil with no sense of ethics but it also makes out readers out to be just as stupid or not able to make an intelligent decision that they are being screwed with.
In the end these laws will do nothing to change the landscape because for as long as there has been people there has been stupid people who will be gullible enough to fall for anything.
Here is a round-up of some of the conversation going on about this travesty
FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials
FTC to Bloggers: Disclose Freebies or Face $11,000 Fine – ReadWriteWeb
FTC Launches New Guidelines For Blogs – StarterTech
FTC Media Roundup: The Good, the Bad and the Indifferent – SiliconANGLE
FTC says bloggers must disclose payments and freebies when reviewing products or risk being fined $16,000 – Orlando Sentinel
Bloggers Must Disclose Payments for Reviews – New York Times
FTC regulates our speech – Jeff Jarvis
[Special] CobWEBs Daily Podcast: Anyone thinking the FTC blogger rules are a good thing are fuckwads – Shooting at Bubbles