Soon, Bloggers Must Give Full Disclosure

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Advertising – F.T.C. to Rule Blogs Must Disclose Gifts or Pay for Reviews – NYTimes.com.

I wrote about this before – and my “For the Record …” statement still stands. There is a new development – a US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rule.

I can see the sense in this planned rule that bloggers must disclose if they are getting paid in cash or in kind to review products or services.

But how can it be enforced? Bloggers don’t need to register with anybody. I am blogging from Thailand. It cannot be enforced here, can it? It’s all very well to make a rule but you have to be able to enforce it for it to have any credibility.

I thought this passage at the foot of the NY Times article was illuminating:

About three-and-a-half years ago Christine Young, of Lincoln, Calif., began blogging about her adventures in home schooling. It led to her current blog, FromDatesToDiapers.com, about mothers and families. The free products soon started arriving, and now hardly a day goes by without a package from Federal Express or DHL arriving at her door, she said. Mostly they are children’s products, like Nintendo Wii games, but sometimes not. She said she recently received a free pair of women’s shoes from Timberland.

Ms. Young said she had always disclosed whether or not she received a free product when writing her reviews. But companies have nothing to lose when sending off goodies: if she doesn’t like a product, she simply won’t write about it.

“I think that bloggers definitely need to be held accountable,” said Ms. Young. “I think there is a certain level of trust that bloggers have with readers, and readers deserve to know the whole truth.”

She said that if she does not like a product she’s been given she will not write about it. I think that is doing her readers a disservice. Surely they will appreciate her negative experiences as well as the positive ones. I think a blog that only says positive things has less credibility than one that is clearly independent.

I don’t think Nikon will be asking me to review any cameras after this post of mine.

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2 Responses to “Soon, Bloggers Must Give Full Disclosure”

  1. Cynthia Says:

    This is crazy! Why are they cracking down on bloggers of all people??

    • BKKPhotographer Says:

      Because we have power!

      Well, I don’t, but some blogs are very influential. Their readers trust them yet they may not be as neutral as they appear.

      I think it is a bit excessive and “nanny state” but mainly I wonder how it will work.

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