Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Should The Gubb'ment Be Policing Bloggers?!?

I don't side with those on the right very often when it comes to the dubious concept of "too much gubb'ment". I think the gubb'ment does indeed have a rightful place when it comes to regulation (ie: banks) of financial markets, ensuring that the food and drugs (FDA) we take are proven safe, and providing help (ie: Social Security) to those who can no longer provide for themselves. In many ways, the gubb'ment is very necessary for the upkeep and running of the country.

On the other hand, when I see bullsh*t like this, I wanna slap a Ron Paul bumper sticker on the back of my Honda.
Online advertisers joined the blogger backlash against the Federal Trade Commission’s new guidelines that require bloggers, Twitterers and others to disclose any cash or freebies they’ve received to hawk stuff online.

The agency has been on a bit of a public-relations offensive over the past week, taking the news media to task for incorrectly reporting that the new guidelines could result in a fine of up to $11,000 for bloggers who break the rules. Bloggers don’t face fines, although if they don’t comply with the rules, they could eventually face legal action for ignoring FTC cease-and-desist letters.

FTC officials say they’re not trying to hound bloggers or Twitterers and aren’t planning on going after individuals, just the advertisers who might try to tempt them with freebies or cash.

“We will be focusing any enforcements on advertisers, not on individual endorsers,” said Mary Engle, the FTC’s associate director for advertising practices, on a call with reporters Wednesday. “We are not planning on investigating individual bloggers.”

The FTC guidelines marked the first major attempt by the agency to revise its endorsement and testimonial policies in nearly 30 years. The guidelines note that bloggers and online marketers must disclose any financial ties to companies that have offered cash or freebies for touting a company’s products or services.

The guidelines mostly lay out scenarios for what is appropriate and what isn’t. They don’t say that bloggers can’t accept free stuff — just that if they do, they have to disclose it.
Anyone who blogs will tell you that they don't do this for the money. Huffington Post is the most popular blog in the world, and 90% of its content is submitted pro bono. Simply put, outside ad revenue and donations, you do this for the love, not the money, cause there ain't much money in it.

[Editor's Note: Thanks to my main man A.F. for that hefty donation the other day. It was very timely and very appreciated. I deleted your email by mistake, otherwise I would have thanked you personally. Consider this my "preciate' it". You're a Great American.]

On the other hand, one thing I do get plenty of is freebies. Movies, clothing, music, previews of TV shows, food, even underwear. You name it, I've gotten it. I don't always return the favor and make mention of such freebies here, because I try my best and keep this place as unbiased as possible. Are there "sponsored ads" here and there? Sure. But more times than not, I don't feel obligated to talk nicely about a product just cause somebody sent it to me for free.

Word to Tim Alexander.

I suspect these overly intrusive guidelines will simply encourage more advertisers to not bother with his little guys like me and funnel all their money and freebies to full blown advertisers who will be above board (ie: clearly for profit) and willing to bite the ethical bullet in exchange for money, whether they like the product or not. And that will really suck, cause I was hoping I could somehow convince the fine folks at JailBreak Toys to give me a set of them Obama Dolls (pictured above) in exchange for a favorable writeup and endorsement here. Yes, I can indeed be bought off. Everybody has a price, and my price is two Obama Dolls.

When if happens (and trust me, it will), I'll be sure to disclose this. I wouldn't want Obama and Co. hitting AB.com with a C&D and an $11k fine just cause I didn't "disclose any financial ties to companies that have offered cash or freebies for touting a company’s products or services".


Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to find me a Ron Paul bumper sticker.

Question: Is it fair for the gubb'ment to try and police smalltime bloggers, when the real target should be big sites (ie: video game reviewers) who are allegedly unbiased, but clearly paid off?!?

Advertisers Call for a Do-Over on FTC Blogger Rules [WSJ]

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