Dy’er Sez: A recent story from the AP states that the FTC is going to institute new guidelines to monitor Bloggers who receive any compensation for reviews of products or services on their blogs.
Excerpts from the AP story:
“New guidelines, expected to be approved late this summer with possible modifications, would clarify that the agency can go after bloggers — as well as the companies that compensate them — for any false claims or failure to disclose conflicts of interest.
It would be the first time the FTC tries to patrol systematically what bloggers say and do online. The common practice of posting a graphical ad or a link to an online retailer — and getting commissions for any sales from it — would be enough to trigger oversight
If the guidelines are approved, bloggers would have to back up claims and disclose if they’re being compensated — the FTC doesn’t currently plan to specify how. The FTC could order violators to stop and pay restitution to customers, and it could ask the Justice Department to sue for civil penalties.
Any type of blog could be scrutinized, not just ones that specialize in reviews.
So parents keeping blogs to update family members on their child’s first steps technically would fall under the FTC guidelines, though they likely would have little to worry about unless they accept payments or free products and write about them.
But they would need to think twice if, for instance, they praise parenting books they’ve just read and include links to buy them at a retailer like Amazon.com Inc.”
Now, while I understand that there may be some concern about someone posting a positive review about a product simply because they were compensated for it, it seems to me that this is nothing more than a power grab and a blatant attempt to bring the internet under the control of the government.
Considering how many blogs and sites there are on the net, how could the FTC even hope to begin to enforce such an edict? Looking back at the recent track record of the FTC (Bernie Madoff and his cronies got away with WHAT for HOW LONG?), it’s pretty obvious that their favorite method of enforcement is the selective kind.
The nauseating thing to me is that, after the guidelines are brought into effect, if someone whom I have no connection to whatsoever decides they like my music and writes a review with a link back to my site, they can conceivably be investigated by the FTC. Even if they can prove that they have received no compensation from me, think of the chilling effect that will have on the free exchange of opinion. One can be come VERY hesitant to share one’s views with the threat of an “Official Government Investigation” hanging over one’s head.
In the last few years, control of the internet has seemingly become a focal point for many governments across the planet (not just in Iran, as the latest TV news reports would indicate), which reminds me of the attempts of the European powers (led by the Holy See) to control the effect of the Guttenberg press all those years ago. I can only hope that the same result of that kind of elitist attempt at control of ideas occurs in our modern day and age.
- FTC Starts To Regulate Social media (elliottlemenager.com)