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FTC's New Blog Rules

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posted on Oct, 12 2009 @ 01:14 PM
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Here is a link to a FTC notice that will take effect on December 1st.
FTCnotice

It seems to me this would be an intrusion to our privacy. I don't believe what anyone says on a blog should have to be filtered through FTC rules. This also leads to montioring issues as governemt would be required to actually look through a blog to determine whether it is breaking regulations.

On the other side of the argument, I can see people wanting more regulation so that they are not subjected to faky product endorsements which are made soley for self profit. But I would refute that every person makes his own mind and you should not be swayed so easily by such advertising.

I have heard through many sources that anyone breaking rules could be subject to fines up to $11,000. blogging rules

Slate.com's Jack Shafer has called the rules, which take effect on December 1 and promise fines of up to $11,000, "The FTC's Mad Power Grab."

But it appears to me they could actually be as much as $16,000 or more. advertising rules

Cease and desist orders. These legally-binding orders require companies to stop running the deceptive ad or engaging in the deceptive practice, to have substantiation for claims in future ads, to report periodically to FTC staff about the substantiation they have for claims in new ads, and to pay a fine of $16,000 per day per ad if the company violates the law in the future.

Seems a bit pricy don't you think? I doubt most bloggers even have that much.

Anyway, I was just wondering what you all think. Is this a violation of the first amendment? And I believe our first amendment rights have already been compromised but this seems to be an escalation of it.

This was used in another topic as an indicator that our government was spreading disinformation. I would like to discuss this further if we could to determine how so. I'm not sure myself but hopefully we will be find out.

I look forward to dissenting points and I will not accuse anyone of working for the establishment and I expect the same in return. Because whether any of us are government agents doesn't matter as long as we present our points coherently and make a reasonable contributution to the discussion.

Mod Edit: All Caps – Please Review This Link.

[edit on 12/10/2009 by Mirthful Me]




posted on Oct, 12 2009 @ 01:23 PM
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This regulation is for basically "Truth in Advertising". If you, as a blogger, are paid by a company to promote it's products or services, then you have to declare such in your "testimonial" blog post.

I know in the computer hardware sector this is a major problem. Bloggers are approached and paid by companies to give false reviews of hardware they have never used, nor tested, in exchange for payment from the manufacturer/distributor.

It does not seem an invasion of personal privacy to be federally required to declare when you are paid to promote something in your Blog.

It is certainly something that is in the better interest of the people, even though many already know that just because you read it in a blog doesn't mean that it is true. There are many who are far more credulous who believe what they read on the internet and are scammed because of it.

It is sad that it has to be Federally Regulated. You'd think that everyone would have a conscience not to accept money for positive reviews without disclosing that it was a paid promotion upfront. Alas, in our Capitalistic society, bribes are far too common place on Blogs and what might appear to be personal is actually a paid advertisement and deceptive.



posted on Oct, 12 2009 @ 01:24 PM
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I think that this is a way of intimidating bloggers...and a way for them to open the door to further regulating free speech.

Under the guise of making sure that bloggers are not promoting a product they are paid to use, or freely supplied with, Big Brother now has a monetary gain off of bloggers, previously not available.

Follow the money trail...and it is the perfect means to impose regulations on free speech. Next stop will be censorship or fines for blogs that misrepresent the truth, or whose personal opinions get tto much attention especially if they are against the flow...

[edit on 12-10-2009 by burntheships]



posted on Oct, 12 2009 @ 06:12 PM
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Thanks for your posts,

fraterormus,

I can see the truth in advertising angle on this issue. I thought we already had truth in advertising laws so if I buy a table and somebody tells me it's solid oak but then I find out it's laminate that would be illegal, and I can get a refund. Would these sorts of laws be applicable online also?

But as far as somebody claiming to use a product they don't actually use, I hear talk show hosts do this all the time or at least they seem to. It doesn't seem so bad to me because I realize they're just doing their job. Anytime I decide to buy a product I usually get a wide range of opinions first so if there's any problem with it I'll probably find out. Then I can do a specific search for that particular problem to see how bad it is.

burntheships,

I am also concerned about the intimidation factor. Could this be used against anybody simply because they may have mentioned a brand name somewhere?



Other questions I have about this is whether it will stretch to bloggers who are not advertising anything. How do they decide who they hit? There may be millions of blogs or message boards, I don't see how they could possibly track them all. Why should one person get hit by the FTC for something minor and not another who is committing fraud?



posted on Oct, 12 2009 @ 06:42 PM
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Originally posted by finnegan
Other questions I have about this is whether it will stretch to bloggers who are not advertising anything. How do they decide who they hit? There may be millions of blogs or message boards, I don't see how they could possibly track them all. Why should one person get hit by the FTC for something minor and not another who is committing fraud?


There are two ways this can be enforced.

Through the IRS, or how the FTC usually handles things in the past, by investigating claims of violation.

If a manufacturer pays someone to write a review, then that manufacturer is most likely doing so with a check. There is an audit trail to prove that. If I read a blog that is promoting some new fandangled gizmo and they don't post the gratuitous disclaimer of "This review was paid for by ACME Manufacturing" in their blog review, and I find it awfully hard to believe that this new fandangled gizmo can do what it says, especially when I bought the device and it didn't work as reviewed, I can write to the FTC who will then look at the blog, and subpoena the manufacturer and the bank of the blog owner to see if they did receive payment for the review. If so, it's a big fine for trying to pull a fast one. If they didn't receive money, and were just blogging out of their backsides, then no fine.

With existing Truth in Advertising laws, it assumes that the Marketing Department of the Manufacturer is making those false claims. If ACME Manufacturing says that their gizmo can bring about World-Peace and julienne your vegetables, and it doesn't, you can go after the Manufacturer. However, if a Blog Reviewer gets paid by the Manufacturer to make those claims for them, you can't go after the Manufacturer, because ACME never said it could bring about World-Peace...some blogger did. Therefore, if Corporations can't lie because of Truth in Advertising, they find a loophole that allows them to get other people to lie for them.

And that is what this seals up. A loophole that has been exploited in this Information Age.

If you are a Blogger who isn't receiving money or gifts for what you Blog about, then you have nothing to fear. The FTC has no business with either you or your Blog as you are a non-commercial enterprise. The moment you accept money or gifts from advertisers, then you have to be open about that relationship when "reporting" or blogging about that advertiser, or you face a fine.

Legitimate Journalists already have a code where they do this. Ever see CNN do an expose of a company that is a subsidiary of their own parent company Time-Warner? They'll state, at the beginning of the article, "World Championship Wrestling, like CNN, is a subsidiary of Time Warner". Likewise, they'll do the same when doing an article for a company they accept paid Advertising from "Disclaimer: Sega is a paid advertiser for CNN". Since Bloggers have been granted the same protections accorded Journalists, which is a good thing, the downside is that commercial Bloggers are now held to the same Journalistic standards of openly disclosing conflicts of interest, bias, and "reporting" vs. paid advertising.

For 99.9% of the Blogs out there that don't receive a dime of money or gifts, this change affects them in no way, shape, or form.

For 100% of Consumers however, it means that if a Blogger claims that Windows 7 out-performs Vista in 8 out of 10 Benchmarks, then you can believe it, unless they claim that their review was paid for by Microsoft (and if they don't claim Microsoft paid them for the review and you find Windows 7 doesn't out-perform anything in any Benchmark, you can report them to the FTC to investigate).

This is a good idea, and it is almost universally accepted as a good idea. The only negatives I've seen against this are the vagueness of the rules, which could be used to apply to anything you might say in your blog about your own employer if you don't disclose that. What that means is even Whistleblowers could be fined, if they don't disclose that they are a current employee, which could put them in hot water with their employer if they disclosed such.

It is important to have rules that aren't vague as they would otherwise be misused or abused in the future, even if the FTC has good intentions at heart in passing these Rules (which there does not appear to be anything nefarious behind it...it really does appear to be of the best intentions, just written by an Agency that really has little understanding of the Digital World, and even less foresight of how quickly that Digital World changes).

The FTC Rules are going in the right direction, it's merely a matter of whether their vagueness could become a slippery slope or not, not the spirit of the Rules themselves.



posted on Oct, 12 2009 @ 08:09 PM
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reply to post by fraterormus

Thanks for your explanation. So from your description it appears as though FTC action will be based on consumer complaints, but I am curious whether FTC will bypass that step and act on it's own accord. And if so would they be able to establish an internet monitoring group?

Also I would like to look further into the possibility the FTC would be able to go after non-paid bloggers. I know you said there wasn't but can we be assured there are no loopholes? If anybody has a link to such info it would be nice.



posted on Oct, 12 2009 @ 08:23 PM
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If this were really about "truth in advertising" there would be a lot of cleaning up to do....

churches and evangelists that sell prayer cloths and money candles...

corporations that shrink product but package it in the same size box....

silent additives in products that are not listed in ingredients...

No, this is not about Truth in advertising or any other Truth.

Something else is going on here.



posted on Oct, 13 2009 @ 10:19 AM
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reply to post by Alethea
 

Alethea,

I agree with the point you make. Corruption is widespread, and any regulations to control end up being spotty at best. If there are ulterior motives we need to find out what's going on.



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